Mediation Services: “I” Statements, not “You” Statements
The purpose of my mediation services is to help people find a way to resolve their issues. Often I find that poor communication skills are issues. How many times have you said statements like these?
“You don’t listen to a word I say.”
“I can’t do anything without you criticizing.”
“You don’t take any responsibility!”
Common enough phrases. Especially when emotions are running high. What do all these statements share? The focus of each statement is the other person – the word “you”. By using the word “you”, the speaker sends a message of blaming, of accusing. As a result, the receiver of these statements has little choice but to defend. Emotions begin to increase.
As a result, the conversation is now focused on argument, on defend and attack. NOT the real issue of concern. Not only are these types of conversations pointless, they are exhausting and draining. So what can be done? Mediation services can help.
It’s not about “you” it’s about me (or I).
With conflicts it easy to spot emotions. People can quite clearly express their anger, confusion, frustration etc. But the important part that is missing from the conversation is “why” they are feeling this way. What is causing this emotion? If a person can not express why they are feeling a certain way – how can they expect others to understand? Without understanding, how can there be a reasonable resolution. It is all connected.
What is an “I” statement
Before making an “I” statement there are tow important things to remember:
- Making an “I” statement involves taking a risk. When expressing how you feel the expectation is that the other person will respond in a positive way. I have found that the this happens in the vast majority of times. Trust that this will happen for you as well.
- You need to know yourself. You must be able to clearly identify your emotions as well as specific examples of what is causing these emotions. Remember: you are not accusing the other person, you are explaining events.
Making the “I” statement. Very simply, these are the four parts of an “I” statement.
- When (….objectively describe event) happens
- I feel (…..identify your emotion)
- I feel this way because (…..objectively describe why).
- I would rather (….describe another way of dealing with this event).
Take another look at these steps. There is no blaming or accusing. It encourages the positive rather than negative. Emotions are identified but are not the focus. Statements are objective not subjective. It offers an invitation to find an option.
One last word about “I” statements. Your emotions are yours. They are valid. This is how you feel. That needs to be respected.