Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“I” Statements

I’ve come to the realization that any time you are working with human beings, there is going to eventually be conflict. And I believe that until the day comes when we sit all alone and work with robots and computers we will have conflict with others. (In pondering the thought of working solely with robots and computers rather than people makes me think that a little conflict isn’t all that bad!)

I have a piece of advice for getting through a potentially tough subject with anyone – chose your words wisely.

As a journalist and agricultural communications student, I focus a lot on words. Why was this word chosen over that one? Could I rearrange this sentence and have the same meaning? What can I change to simplify this sentence?

I’ve learned to apply this same concept to how I talk to people in all situations whether it be a casual conversation or settling a disagreement. The old saying “Think before you speak” applies in all cases.

Use “I” statements.

Rather than saying, “You told me to.” Simply rephrase the sentence and say, “I understood that you wanted me to.”
Which would you respond better to?

In visiting with a friend whose boyfriend wouldn’t call every evening, I advised her to say, “I love to hear your voice before I fall asleep at night.” rather than, “You need to call me every night.”

The “I” statement applies because there is no finger pointing. It changes from a demand to a request.

While at home, it drives me up the wall when it is said, “Thank you, Kristen, for doing the dishes.” before we even get up from the dinner table. I would respond much better (and be much more willing to do more to help) if I was asked, “Kristen, I would really appreciate it if you would take a turn at the dishes tonight”.

I personally would rather choose to volunteer rather than be, as one of my good friends calls it, ‘voluntold’.

“I” statements apply to every relationship – friends, acquaintances, strangers, significant others and I would assume even within a marriage.

And one last thought – I’ve heard it said that when you are praying for a change in another person, it may just be you that needs a change of heart.

I challenge you to think before you speak and test the “I” statement. Let me know how it works for you!

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