Photo By: Frank McKenna
Often I see couples and individuals who struggle to communicate in their relationships. Usually, the issue is that they do not feel like their partner hears them, and when they communicate it usually leads to arguments and each of them becoming defensive. But most people communicate by trying to make a point with the other person... "You said blah blah, so I got mad." Or, "if you would just stop blah blah, then I wouldn't feel hurt." The problem is not so much the content of what they are talking about, but rather the delivery.
Sometimes just changing the approach to the way you communicate can change the outcome of the conversation.
I usually encourage people to use "I Statements" when they communicate with others. Often the content of what they are saying is the same, but by simply changing how they say it, their partner can suddenly hear them more effectively. (This doesn't necessarily mean they will agree with them, but simply promotes being heard.)
Instead of starting a sentence with "You did...", simply change that to "I hear you say, I feel..." or "When I see you do this, I think..."
The most important element is to communicate what YOU think and how YOU feel.
This is how you share your emotions without your partner becoming instantly defensive. It also helps you be more open and vulnerable in your relationship, which is what leads to improved intimacy.
1. Acknowledge what you have observed. "When I hear you say..."
2. Identify what your thoughts are on the observation.
3. Identify what your feelings are on the observation or event.
4. Ask for what you want in the future or desired change.
I am including on the site a free printable to walk you through exactly how to use "I Statements" in your relationships! Please let me know how it works for you!
Jessi Robertson, MS, LMFT
Therapist. Mom. Writer. Consultant. Coffee Lover.