I statements

An “I” statement includes the word I rather than YOU.

A good “I” statement is a clean, clear statement of how it is from your side – how you feel or are experiencing a situation.  

  • It tells your truth (how you are experiencing whatever is happening).
  • It is free of expectations. 
  • There is no blame or criticism; no implication of anything negative.
  • It does not minimize or exaggerate.

An “I” statement is about being clear.
 It’s not about being ‘soft’ or ‘nice’, nor should it be rude or disrespectful.

I feel worried when I think that you’ll be home for dinner and you aren’t here for hours and I don’t hear from you.

Your tone matters!

 

I feel _______

Avoid words that may seem like emotions, but really imply the action of your partner: “I feel…ignored, annoyed, mistreated, manipulated, controlled, cheated, abandoned, etc.”

when _______

Refer to the behavior, not to the person


Some possible sentence starters

  • When I’m….
  • When I….
  • I think that I….
  • I feel that I….
  • My concern is….

How does  this behavior affect me or make me feel

  • I feel unappreciated when….
  • I’m worried that something will go wrong if….
  • My concern is that….
  • I get really anxious when….
  • I get really scared when….
  • I feel hurt when….
  • I feel tired when….

An “I” statement says
         how it is on my side,
         how I see it.

“I” statements are not self-centered.
It’s about sharing how you experienced what the other person did or said
– without blaming or criticizing them.

An I statement makes you take responsibility of your experiences and emotions
– acknowledging and understanding them better.

We can only know our own experience; we don’t know anyone else’s thoughts, feelings or intent.

Those can all be assumptions, based on our perspectives of the situation
       – while the other person has their own reality.

You can only talk from your perspective – I statements.
Don’t assume to know why someone is feeling or acting in the way that they are.

To share your emotions and experiences with an I statement takes vulnerability (and strength). 

Being vulnerable enough to share one’s experience of the other can create a bridge to the other person
to get in touch with how you are feeling and how you experience them.

This can deepen the relationship.

I statements can sometimes take away the sense of blame or criticism.

When you focus on what you are feeling, rather than on your opinion on the matter,
it is non-threatening and inoffensive.

A fuller “I” statement also includes how you would like it to be.

I feel _______ when _________ (because* ____________)

What I need/ want is __________. (Would you consider ________________)

I feel worried when I think that you’ll be home for dinner and you aren’t here for hours and I don’t hear from you because I really care about you.  What I need is to know that you are ok.  Please call me to let me know if you are running late.

Because

  • Ask yourself … how does this behavior affect me or make me feel?

Need

  • This is not what you want differently. Rather it is about a human need that you have.
In general, it is best to present your thoughts as I statements. In that way you are presenting your truth, as you see it, rather than blaming or criticizing.
This is especially important when  you are communicating with another and things are already stressed and difficult, one strategy is using ‘I’ statements.

Use ‘I’ statements when expressing positive feelings and appreciation.

This shows how you are experiencing the other person.

“I feel so relaxed when I am around you.” vs. “You have such a calming effect.”

“I am so happy you got that for me.” vs. “Thank you for the gift.”

The other person has just shared their experience; they may have been somewhat vulnerable when sharing that.
The way you respond can make all the difference.

  1. Validate their experience and your role in it.
  2. State what you will do differently in the future.

“You sound  __________ because I _________.  Next time I will ________.”

“You sound worried because I came home much later than usual. Next time I will call you to let you know if I will be late.

I statements can avoid some arguments​.

Some words just invite arguments.  Rephrase those into I statements. What is truly unarguable is one’s feelings and experiences.

click on the image to see how to rephrase as an I statement.

Craft an I statement for these scenarios.

click on the box for a sample I statement.

Scenario:

About a month ago, your spouse agreed to do [something]. As of this morning, it is not yet done.

Sample I statement:

“We agreed that [something] would be done two weeks ago, and it is not yet done. It is very frustrating to me because I was hoping it would be ready before my parents come tonight.”

Scenario:

Your spouse scheduled a day out with friends on the same day that you had already agreed to go to your parents.

Sample I statement:

“I am very disappointed that you arranged to go with friends after we had already scheduled to go to my parents. I need to know that when we put something onto our calendar, it will be respected. If you need to change something that is prescheduled, let us first discuss it.”
How might you respond to those I statements?
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