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Using “I” Statements

An “I” message or “I” statement is a style of communication that focuses on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker. An “I” statements contrasts with “you” statements, which shift blame and attributions to the listener. “I” statements enable speakers to be assertive without making accusations, which can often make listeners others feel defensive and lead to further argument or misunderstanding. An “I” statement can help a person become aware of problematic behavior and allows the speaker to take responsibility for his or her own thoughts and feelings rather than attributing them (sometimes falsely or unfairly) to someone else.

When used correctly, “I” statements can help encourage positive communication in relationships and may help them become stronger, as sharing feelings and thoughts in an honest and open manner can help people in a relationship to better understand each other and to grow closer. “I” statements may allow people to work through disagreements in a way that allows them to express their opinions and feelings to each other without assigning blame and placing further strain on the relationship.

Many people do not communicate naturally with “I” statements, and it often takes some practice before a person can use them effectively. That said, people of all ages can learn to use “I” messages.

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