I-messages seem simple enough, but the benefits that come from them are anything but simple.
- We are more likely to influence another person to change an undesired behavior by using I-messages. Because they are less threatening, I-messages are less likely to provoke resistance or make the other person feel bad.
- We place the responsibility for changing the behavior or action on the other person. Stating an I-message brings attention to the problem at hand without dictating how it must be rectified, trusting the other person to repect our needs and allowing them to take ownership of their actions. We relinguish any attempt at controlling the other person and allow them to take responsibility for their own actions.
- When we use I-messages, we model honesty. Honest, open communication from one person in a relationship promotes reciprocal treatment from the other.
- We open ourselves to the other person. Not only do we show that we are a feeling person with needs, we show that we can also trust the other person to be cognizant of our needs. By sharing of ourselves, we strengthen our relationship.
What a terrific reminder! I have been trying to do this as often as possible with my children – instead of “you guys are being really loud!” I might say, “my ears are feeling a little sore, I’d appreciate the volume being toned down a bit”. 🙂
I do find with strong-willed children, in particular, phrasing things like what I would want or how I see things leads to far less resistance than giving specific correction or direction.