March 8th, 2012
The importance of I language
It seems to me that rule 101 of any communication course is “Use I Language”.
That means instead of starting sentences with:
– you should …
– you need to …
– you have to …. etc
Sentences should start with:
– I need…
– I want….
– I feel … etc
Sentences that start with the word You instantly cause defensiveness. I know that technically tone is more important than words in communication, but the word You is a dangerous word and causes an emotional reaction very quickly.
“You need to call me back” (even in a nice tone) sounds so different from “I need a call back.” Even in a less than nice tone it sounds better than the first sentence.
What we need to be careful about is the danger of the “me, me, me” conversationalist (see http://on-the-right-track.com/are-you-a-me-me-me-conversationalist/ for a longer article on those dangers).
When dealing with a difficult person, a confrontation or a bully, words DO matter more than in regular conversation with friends. Emotions are higher. Triggers are closer to the surface and we tend to read far more info statements when there is tension in the relationship.
So today, watch all the sentences that start with You (even with those people where there is no tension). Make sure you start with “I” but don’t become a “me-me-me” conversationalist too.
Perhaps it removes a trigger on your difficult person’s radar, and it just might help keep those conversations neutral.