Proactive Conflict Resolution in Our Relationships

‘I’ Statements
One of the most effective methods to resolve conflicts in your home relationships is to use ‘I’ statements or ‘I’ messages. ‘I’ statements help express your feelings and they help you take responsibility for those feelings. They often lead to conciliatory efforts between you and the other party, whether it be your husband, daughter or brother.

The ‘I’ statement is usually composed of three parts:
1. ‘I feel’: of course every ‘I’ statement starts with taking personal responsibility for the way you feel.
2. your emotions: you state what emotions you are feeling
3. condition: you state under what conditions you feel those emotions and what those conditions make you feel

Here’s an example: I feel angry when you don’t help clean the house because it makes me feel unappreciated.

Think back over the past week. How many times have you taken responsibility for your emotions by using an ‘I’ statement? ‘I’ statements are a proactive departure from the commonly used ‘you’ messages, such as ‘you made another mess for me to clean up; you’re so inconsiderate!’ ‘You’ statements usually lead to the other party feeling hurt and getting defensive and reacting negatively.

The Many Benefits of ‘I’ Statements
‘I’ statements, on the other hand, lead to reconciliation and understanding since the two parties are each taking responsibility for the conflict. It’s the chance to voice your emotions in an unthreatening, tactful way without being confrontational. They work wonders! Why?

‘I’ statements work because you are taking responsibility for how someone’s actions have made you feel. These statements are also short, get right to the point, are easily graspable by the listening party and curb passive aggressive behavior. It may take a while before the other party realizes that you’re trying to patch things up, but start expecting more empathy following the use of ‘I’ statements.

Using ‘I’ statements with your family also means that you’re teaching positive conflict resolution techniques to your children.

Practicing ‘I’ Statements
You can practice these proactive conflict resolution techniques by first identifying times when you use those unproductive ‘you’ statements.

Refresh your memory by looking at some examples of these ‘you’ messages:

type you statements I statements
1. judging ‘you’re rude and inconsiderate’ ‘I feel hurt when you call me names’
2. blaming ‘you make me mad every day’ ‘I feel angry when you…’
3. ordering ‘shut up!’ ‘I feel annoyed when you bring up…’
4. accusing ‘you don’t love me!’ ‘I feel neglected when you ignore me’

These are just some ideas of ways in which we use ‘you’ statements. We’ve also given some ideas of how you can rephrase your emotions into more positive ‘I’ statements! Think of any conflicts you’ve experienced in the last few days—how could you have made each conflict less hostile and argumentative and made them an opportunity for all parties involved to grow in understanding of each other?

Start using ‘I’ statements today and remember to breathe! You’re on your way to a happy and harmonious life!