Here’s how you can begin to use the “I” and not the “you” communication model yourself.
Simply begin each of your sentences with “I” instead of “you,” and state what you think or feel. This will help you clarify what it is that you want to communicate to the people around you.
Sounds simple, right? But sometimes the most difficult things to master in practice are actually the simplest to comprehend in theory.
But let’s look at an example, and see how one woman changed her life by changing her way of communicating.
Nancy Irwin, 51, a psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist who lives and works in Los Angeles, shared with me an example of how the use of “I” language helped her avoid a legal dispute.
Nancy had started a business with a friend. After a dispute over an unfortunate incident involving their business, Nancy received a letter from the attorney of her friend and associate, informing Nancy that her friend would be taking legal action against her. Nancy was flummoxed.
After a few hours of reflection, Nancy decided to pick up the phone and call her friend, and to keep it personal – and not accusatory. She stated in simple “I” language, “I feel really betrayed and hurt that after five years of friendship and professional association, you did not give me the dignity of a phone call. Instead I received a letter from your attorney.”
Her associate apologized and dropped legal action. They worked out their differences together. All it took was communication from an “I” perspective.
Another example comes from Terri Sinclair, 41, a communications coach, trainer, and speaker who runs her own coaching business. Terri shared with me that she teaches her students to use “I” statements as a way to be assertive without actually telling someone what to do.
One of her favorite statements is using “I prefer” versus “you need to.” Terri explained that in the past she used to respond to someone telling her how to do something by saying, “You don’t understand why I am doing it this way.” That way of communicating left the other party feeling they’d been confronted by someone very stubborn, leaving them to defend their point of view. A great way to start an argument.
Today, when this comes up, Terry instead says, “I prefer to do it this way. Thanks for your input.” Terri explains that the “I prefer” statements work better than the “I want” statements as they are more assertive and still state what you wish to do. This way of communication lets you acknowledge the contribution that the other person made with his or her suggestions.
Think of situations you’ve been in, and tell me where you used You” instead of “I” and if that made a difference. Have you thought about how you communicate? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you