Healthy communication is a highly underrated skill in relationships of all kinds. Let’s explore methods to more effectively communicate with others, and look more closely at tip #7, the use of “I” statements.
Ten Tips for Healthy Communication
- Find the right time⠀⠀
- Talk face to face⠀⠀
- Establish ground rules⠀⠀
- Discuss goals⠀⠀
- Take breaks ⠀⠀
- Highlight your emotions ⠀⠀
- Use “I” statements⠀⠀
- Be honest⠀⠀
- Write a letter if need be⠀⠀
- Debrief later ⠀⠀
“You” vs. “I” Statements
We often communicate with “you” statements — telling someone what they did, why it was good or bad, and assigning judgment to their behavior. It can be especially easy to use “you” statements when we’re in emotional pain. These critical statements, however, often cause more pain to all parties involved, and can deteriorate a relationship over time. “I” statements, on the other hand, highlight your emotions instead of assigning blame.
Before you make a critical statement, reframe the “you” statement to an “I” statement, emphasizing your emotional experience. By stating your emotions, you’re better able to convey your experience. Additionally, the person you’re speaking to will be less likely to go on the defensive when responding to you. While it can be easy to lash out in the moment, “I” statements promote healthier communication and emotional intimacy in the long-term.
Healthy Communication Takes Practice
If you’re unfamiliar with using “I” statements, directly stating how you feel may be initially uncomfortable as it entails vulnerability. If you find “I” statements challenging, practice using them with someone you trust, and write down examples that come to mind. ⠀As you practice these techniques, over time you’ll become more confident in using them.
What techniques in the past have helped you effectively communicate with others? What communication-related challenges have you faced?