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.
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!
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.”
Refer to the behavior, not to the person
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 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.
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.
“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.“
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.