A Communication Tool – “I” Messages

“I” messages are a great way to communicate how we are feeling in conflict without blaming the other person for how we are feeling. The “I” message technique involves taking accountability and responsibility for our own feelings. Sometimes when we are in conflict, we have a hard time communicating how we are feeling.

When we have strong emotional responses to a situation, it is important to identify what has triggered us. We may have experienced difficulty in a similar situation before, or the situation may remind us of a painful experience in some other time of our life. If we ignore this emotional arousal, it will undermine our own ability to communicate honestly and clearly, interfere with our ability to hear and empathize with the other person, and may raise the emotional tone of the discussion unnecessarily.

When this happens…use the “I” message.

I feel….
When… (try not to say “you” in the statement, when “you” is used the other person hears blame)
I need… (specifically say what you need, the other person is not a mind reader)

The “I” message is an effective tool used for assertiveness training in counselling.  It helps the client to communicate their concerns, feelings, and needs.  The “I” message is not intended to make the other person fix the problem, rather it is about opening up healthy conversations about how you felt in that given moment.  It is a way of clearly stating your perspective so that the other person may understand your point of view.  

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