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“I” Statements

Conflict and disagreements in any relationship is healthy and even encouraged. It is how the individuals approach this that matters: Healthy communication during conflict is key. The goal during interpersonal conflict is not focused on who can win the argument, but how can we work together to solve the topic or presenting problem. A lot of times during conflict, people become defensive and the conversation shifts. There are many tools that can help create a space for a healthy discussion where one can share their feelings and prevent defensiveness. One tool is how we communicate our feelings to the person we are talking to. Language plays a big role in this, and one strategy that can support positive communication is utilizing I-statements. I-statements keep the focus on our own feelings, rather than placing blame on the person we are talking to. By doing this, it prevents our partner from feeling attacked, as well as remaining focus on the goal of the conversation. Below is the layout of an I-statement as well as some examples

I feel ____(emotion)____ when ____(situation)____. I need ___(supportive options)___.

Instead of: “You don’t respect my privacy.”  

Try: “I feel upset when I do not have privacy. I need some time to myself to help recharge.”

I-statements are seen as more effective because the person is able to talk about their feelings, be heard, as well as keeping the space open and more comfortable for both people involved. By telling what you need, it can start the problem solving process and assist with achieving the goal. Test this out in your everyday conversations!