Posted in Anger Management, Emotions, Parent-Child Bonding, Positive Parenting, Relationships, Social Skills, Therapy

“I messages” or iMessages for Children, Families, Couples: Respectful Communication

The POWER of Words!

When you want to express your anger or how you feel – it helps to have words to describe how you are feeling!!! Here are some words related to ANGER:

MAD ~ Ticked off ~ FURIOUS ~ Irritated ~ Hot-headed ~ MEAN ~ Resentful ~ CRABBY ~ Angry ~ OUT OF CONTROL ~ Riled up ~ BITTER ~ Indignant ~ GROUCHY ~ IRKED ~ Cranky ~ POWERLESS ~ Ornery ~ FRUSTRATED ~ Enraged ~ ANNOYED ~ Peeved ~ BUGGED ~ Snarly ~ GRUMPY ~ Hostile

Now here are some HELPFUL POSITIVE words – these express how you would like to feel AND how you can feel when you have handled anger in a positive way!

CONFIDENT ~ Safe ~ CONTENT ~ In control ~ STRON ~ CLEARHEADED ~ Proud ~ Sure ~ Assertive ~ MINDFUL ~ Upbeat ~ PEACEFUL ~ Can-do ~ Happy ~ COMPOSED ~ Healthy ~ Careful ~ THOUGHTFUL ~ At Ease ~ CAPABLE ~ COOL HEADED ~ Relieved ~ POSITIVE

Some people swear or cuss a lot at school and at home when they are ANGRY (and even when they are not angry!). Swearing can be hurtful and embarrassing. Plus, they can make you (and others) feel even angrier. Instead use ANGER words above to say how you feel. Often times when you are angry at someone, you need to talk about it. Otherwise you may get into a “blame game” where both of you will get madder and madder. This will not solve a problem. A better way to handle the situation and avoid the Blame Game is by using I-messages.

I-messages are especially helpful when you are angry with someone else. They give you a way of talking about how you feel without blaming. You probably want to blame the other person but doing so can make that person want to argue or fight back. I-messages are positive. They can help keep the conversation calm and respectful.

Here is how to use them: (Example your classmate takes a magazine out of your hands that you were looking at)

  1. State your feeling. Use the word “I” when you do this. “I feel really peeved…”
  2. Say what it is that led you to feel this way. “…when you take something out of my hands without asking me.”
  3. Say why you feel this way. “because I was looking at that comic strip.”
  4. State what you want to have happen to solve the problem. “I want you to ask me first from now on.”

“I feel really peeved when you take something out of my hands without asking me because I was looking at that comic strip. I want you to ask me first from now on.” 

If it is not possible to talk to the person directly, you can make a phone call or write a note using I-messages. The key to this method is PRACTICE. Get used to stating your feelings clearly and asking for what you need. You will feel stronger and more confident when you use I-messages. Other people will be more willing to talk things over with you. Words are very POWERFUL – they can hurt or they can help. When you use words in a positive way, you are more likely to get a positive result and that means you are on the right path to solving a problem! Remember that before you try to resolve a conflict with someone else you have to make sure you are CALM!

i_message_sentence_starters

‘iMessage’

Using an ‘I Message’  is a useful tool that helps defuse a conflict. Instead of making ‘Accusing You’ statements that sound blameful and attacking, using an ‘I Message’ has the potential to de-escalate the feelings of anxiety and maintain the peace.

List of iMessage Sentence Starters:

  • I want  _______________ because  _________________________.
  • I feel  _______________ because  __________________________.
  • I would appreciate it if  _____________ because ______________.
  • I think  _______________ because __________________________.
  • I need  ___________ because _____________________________.
  • I expect  ___________ because ____________________________.
  • I wish  ___________ because _____________________________.
  • I understood you to say _____________ because ______________.
  • I thought you said  ___________ because ____________________.
  • It was my understanding that ________ because _______________.
  • I guess I misheard. Please  __________ because _______________.
  • I would like it very much if  ____________ because _____________.

In a conflict you have a much better chance to get that person to hear and respond in a more positive manner if you use an ‘I Message’ that tells how you feel and why you feel that way.

 Examples:  Decide which way sounds better…

trashYour Request to “take out the trash” is IGNORED

You asked (partner/child) to take out the trash. After several hours, it is not done. You now have to decide how you will communicate your repeated request in such a way that not only will they do what you asked, you will still maintain a harmonious relationship.

Accusing You Statement:

“You still have not taken out the trash. That is so inconsiderate. You hardly ever do anything to help me out!”

With this statement you have the potential of putting this person on the defensive and escalating a conflict. If someone said those words to you, how would they make you feel? Very likely, those words might make you feel guilty, defensive, and exasperated.

I Statement or iMessage:  

“I would really appreciate it if you could take out the trash in the next 15 minutes, please. That would really help me out.”

This is a more respectful way of talking about your needs and feelings. You have a greater chance of preserving the peace and potentially getting what you requested as well. If someone said those words to you, how would they make you feel? Do you think you would be more inclined to do what was requested of you?

07242012_Article Someone you love talks to you in a mean or disrespectful manner

Your (partner/child) speaks to you in a way that hurts your feelings. You not only would like them to acknowledge that it was not okay for them to talk to you like that, you would want them to never do it again.

Accusing You Statement:

“You have no right to talk to me in that way! How dare you do that! I can’t believe you would be so disrespectful! You are so rude!”

This statement has the potential of putting this person on the defensive and escalating a conflict. If someone said those words to you, how would they make you feel? Very likely, those words might make you feel guilty, defensive, exasperated, and perhaps a little fearful.

I Statement or iMessage:

“I wish you wouldn’t talk to me in that way as it really hurts my feelings. Please don’t do that again.”

This is a respectful way of talking about your needs and feelings. You have a greater chance of preserving the peace and potentially getting what you requested as well. If someone said those words to you, how would they make you feel? Do you think you would be more inclined to do what was requested of you?

Pencil3Someone borrowed a pencil and refuses to return it.

You loaned a pencil to your classmate. At some point, you want/need it back. Perhaps you have lost your only other pencil. Perhaps your only other pencil broke. Perhaps you see that the other person is over-sharpening the borrowed pencil so that it is getting so much shorter that it soon might be unusable.

If you make ‘Accusing You’ statements, you have the potential of putting this person on the defensive and escalating a conflict. Accusing You statements are not very helpful if you would like to maintain your friendship with this person or in getting your pencil back?

Examples of ‘Accusing You’ statements:
  • “You’re ruining my pencil. How dare you!”
  • “You’re a rotten, no-good jerk because you refuse to give me my pencil back.”
  • “You better give me my pencil back right now or else!”

If you use the more respectful way of talking about your needs and feelings with an ‘I Messages,’ you have a greater chance of preserving the peace and potentially getting what you want.

Some possible ‘I Messages’ could include:
  • “I would appreciate it if you return my pencil now as I really need it.”
  • “I wish you would return my pencil now since I have lost the one I was using.”
  • “I feel it is only fair you loan me a pencil today since I loaned you one yesterday.”
2907986-snowwhite_grumpy_4 Someone is being mean, grumpy, or is calling you names.
Someone is being mean to you or appears to be grumpy. Or perhaps someone is calling you names.

Examples of ‘Accusing You’ statements:

  • “You’re such a meanie! Why do you have to be that way?”
  • “You’re such a grump! You are so annoying!”
  • “You better not be calling me names, or I’ll make you pay.”

Can you see why ‘Accusing You’ statements are not very helpful if you would like to maintain your friendship with this person or get them to calm down or start being nice?

 Examples of ‘I Messages’:
  • “I would appreciate it if you would NOT be grumpy with me as it hurts my feelings.”
  • “I wish you wouldn’t snap at me because it bothers me.”
  • “I feel you shouldn’t call me names because, just like you, I deserve to be treated with respect.”

left-out Someone who refuses to allow you to join a large-group game or activity.

Someone is refusing to allow you to join a large-group game or activity. You really want to play or join.

Examples of ‘Accusing You’ statements:

  • “You never let me play. You are so unfair!”
  • “You better let me play, or I’ll tell on you!”
  • “You are such a jerk! Why don’t you let me play?”

Can you see why ‘Accusing You’ statements are not very helpful if you would like to maintain your friendship with this person or getting them  to agree to allow you to join the game or activity?

Some possible ‘I Messages’ could include:

  • “In the future, I would really appreciate it if you would let me play next time. I’m pretty good, and I promise NOT to hog the ball.”
  • “I feel it is only fair that I can play too. I believe I’m good enough that I could try to help our team win.”

rumor Someone has told an untrue rumor/lie about you.

Examples of ‘Accusing You’ statements:

  • “You are such a jerk for spreading false rumors about me. You better stop!”
  • “You are such a liar! I never did those things, and you had no right to tell people that I did!”
  • “You better stop talking about me, or I’ll start spreading some rumors about you. Then you’ll be sorry you ever decided to mess with me!”

If your goal is to get them to tell other people that the rumor is not really true, you have a much better chance if you are nice rather than mean.

Examples ‘I Messages’:

  • “I would appreciate it if you would not spread any further rumors about me that aren’t true. Also, please tell the ones you told them to that the rumor wasn’t true. Would you do that for me, please?”
  • “I expect you to NOT spread rumors about me that aren’t true. Perhaps you’re having a hard day. Do you want to talk about it?”

Download here PDF Handout I-messages that includes a worksheet for you to complete: IMessagesHandout (this is meant for Co-parenting, Divorce, but can be for anyone who wants to improve communication!)


i-statements1-294x350

Lets pretend you’re loading your toddler into the car, and he is crying over not getting his way (shocking, right?). You catch yourself after saying You make mommy feel sad when you cry like that.”

Can you figure out why what’s wrong with this statement?

Words can be very powerful, especially when we use them on a regular basis. When you told your son that he MAKES YOU FEEL sad, you are implying he has some sort of control over your feelings. In a way, it’s placing blame on him for his mom’s feelings. Bad news!

What should you have said?

The Three Benefits of Using I-Statements in Communication:

  1. Practicing and teaching boundaries: Healthy boundaries means that you own your own thoughts and feelings. Other people do not control your thoughts and feelings and you don’t control the thoughts and feelings of others. This is an important and valuable lesson for your kids, as well as maintaining your own psychological health.
  2. Improving communication and conflict resolution: Using I-statements keeps the person you are communicating with from being on the defense. You will be better able to resolve conflict using I-statements rather than stating, “You did this” and “You did that!”
  3. Great for all ages and communication levels. You can use this communication technique with anyone and any age.

How To Use I-Statements:

Start by identifying how you feel: mad, sad, frustrated, etc.

I feel __________

State the reason you feel this way or what happened that led you to those feelings.

when __________

Try to identify the reason the person’s actions led to those feelings for you.

because __________ 

Let the person know what you want instead.

I would like __________ . 

Example:

Your spouse snaps at you during dinner and it really hurt your feelings. Here’s an I-statement to use with this scenario:

I feel hurt when you snap at me like that because I worked hard to cook this nice dinner for us. I would like you to use nicer words and tone with me, and to know if something happened today that has led you to be in a bad mood.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Just like anything else, the more you practice I-statements, the better you will become at this very effective communication tool. Use this technique with your friends, family, spouse, and kids. You can also make learning fun with a game!

Use your I’s ~ therapeutic game. It is recommended that this game be played by parents with their kids! You can buy it online at Childtherapytoys.com the cost is $41. The players draw from a stack of cards with various scenarios that challenges the player to identify how they would feel in that scenario and turn it into an I statement. It is a great tool for teaching the following:

1. Feeling identification,
2. Turning these feelings into an I statement, and
3. Role playing to practice the communication tool.

UseYourI

So, go out and use your I’s today! :)


More good references on this subject:

http://www.communicationandconflict.com/i-statements.html

http://ezinearticles.com/?Assertive-Communication—6-Tips-For-Effective-Use&id=10259

http://www.mensline.org.au/Uploads/MLA_i_statements.pdf



Original Sources:

Author:

Mother, Pediatric Nurse and a Trail Blazer for Positive Change.

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