"I" Statements that are Actually "You" Statements | Couple's Net | Chandrama Anderson | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

Couple's Net

By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson

About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

View all posts from Chandrama Anderson

"I" Statements that are Actually "You" Statements

Uploaded: Nov 16, 2013
No, that's not a typo. I hear these a lot when I encourage partners to use "I statements" or to share how s/he is feeling. Here are examples of what to skip, and what to try:

Skip:
I feel YOU are angry at me.
I feel like this is a . . . (these are thoughts vs. feelings)
I think YOU aren't listening.
YOU made me feel like I don't matter.

Try:
I feel nervous. What are you feeling?
I feel misunderstood.
I feel unheard.
I feel unimportant.

What's the difference; why does it matter?

There is nothing to argue with when we use an actual "I statement" because it just is how we feel in that moment. What, are you going to answer, "No, you don't feel unheard,"? I hope not. In order for there to be a sticking point, there has to be a hook to get caught on (think Velcro). Velcro needs two matched pieces in order to stick. When you simply state your feeling, you are a smooth surface.

No one wants to be told "You this" or "You that." So your partner is more likely to listen to you.

Of course your impulse to justify is often stronger than your desire to listen. Check in with yourself (not your partner) in this regard.

So, use I statements, and then reflect back what you heard (which is the only place for YOU statements).
You hear: I feel nervous. What are you feeling?
You Say: Oh, you're nervous. I'm feeling agitated.
You hear: I'm feeling agitated.
You Say: Oh, you're agitated. Will you tell me about that?
You hear: I feel misunderstood.
You Say: You feel misunderstood. What is important that you want me
to understand?

Do you get the idea? It's slow, maybe you even think it's cheesy. However, it works. So experiment for yourself, and let me know how it goes.

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post
Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Opening alert: Go Fish Poke Bar in Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 21,513 views

It's President's Day. Why Not Butter Up the Boss?
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 9,089 views

Affordable Housing: Complexities
By Douglas Moran | 12 comments | 1,777 views

Common Application's 2017-2018 Essay Prompts
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,546 views

Checklist before baby arrives
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 842 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 31st Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 13, 2017. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details