Respectful expression of feelings
Posted February 24, 2009on:
We talked earlier about not making accusatory statements against others when communicating. This is because it puts the other person on the defensive. Instead, you should focus on the positive – which is how the other person’s actions or statements made you feel. No one can argue with you for having feelings and you are more than entitled to them.
Instead of using terms like “you always forget to close the window,” you are better off to use a term like “I get cold when the window is open. Can you please remember to close it? Using “I” statements shows more respect for the feelings of the other person. You are no longer putting them on the defensive and are deflecting any sort of communication to yourself. This eliminates the potential of a conflict in communication style.
Even if you are right when it comes to a potential conflict, such as your partner leaves the bedroom window open all the time, forgets to close it, despite being told repeatedly, and it rains while you are at work, soaking the room, you are better off to resolve the conflict by saying “the window was open all day and soaked the room and I am really upset about it,” rather than saying “you left the window open all day, you moron.
For an exercise, imagine what would be the response if you said the first statement. Chances are that your partner would empathize with you about the window and remember to close it next time. They will most likely apologize for the errant window closing. There is nothing that you can do about what happened while you were at work, but you do not want it to happen again – yet you do not want to have a knockdown, drag out fight over a window
being left open. If you use the first term, you are communicating effectively and positively. You are telling your
partner how you feel about the open window and communicating your wishes about keeping the window closed.
If you use the second term, it is just going to cause conflict. Even though he or she is wrong about the open window, they will still go on the defensive. Your communication is negative and will most likely bring a negative response. You want your partner to remember to close the window – you do not want them to feel guilty over this act for the rest of their life.