I-messages – a way to communicate without blaming

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I-messages Communicating without blaming

I-messages – a way to communicate without blaming

Wikipedia defines I-messages as a way to be assertive without putting the listener on the defensive.

What is an I-message?

People often initiate conversations intended to resolve conflict with the word “you”.

  • You hurt my feelings
  • You are being inconsiderate

When a statement starts with you, it comes across as blaming and is almost guaranteed to put the listener on the defensive and to feel attacked and then to respond in kind.  It is unlikely that anything will get resolved and neither party will feel heard or validated.

I-messages take the form:

  1. When xxx happened (where xxx is something objective that any neutral third party would agree with)
  2. I felt yyy (hurt, angry, sad, disappointed, etc.)
  3. and what I would like is zzz (what action would you like the listener to do differently)

There is no blame or editorializing in an I-message, it states what happened in an objective way, how you felt about it and what you would like differently.

Examples of I-messages

  1. When I came home and the dishes weren’t done, I felt angry and I would like you to do the dishes before you go to bed.
  2. When I saw you slow dancing with that woman, I felt fearful that you were attracted to her and I would like you not to slow dance with anyone but me.
  3. When you watch football all day on Sunday, I feel lonely and I would like you to make time for me after the football game is over

If you  use “I messages” your communication in your relationships will improve because people will be more likely to hear you without getting defensive and it is more likely that you will be able to resolve whatever the issue is.

Try it, you may be very pleasantly surprised with the results 🙂

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