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"I" Statements

Dad talking to son, who looks like he has been in a fight

When a person feels that they are being blamed – whether rightly or wrongly – it’s common that they respond with defensiveness.

“I” Statements are a simple way of speaking that will help you avoid this trap by reducing feelings of blame. A good “I” statement takes responsibility for one’s own feeling, while tactfully describing a problem.

  • “I feel emotion word when explanation.”

  • “I feel…” must be followed with an emotion word, such as “angry”, “hurt”, or “worried”.

  • Careful wording won’t help if your voice still sounds blaming. Use a soft and even tone.

  • In your explanation, gently describe how the other person’s actions affect you.

Examples of turning blaming statements into "I" statements

Blaming statement: “You can’t keep coming home so late! It’s so inconsiderate.”

“I” statement: “I feel worried when you come home late. I can’t even sleep.”

Blaming statement: “You never call me. I guess we just don’t talk anymore. You make me upset.”

“I” Statement: “I feel hurt when you go so long without calling. I’m afraid something is wrong.”

It can be helpful to practice re-wording things from blaming statements to"I" statements. Here are some situations for you to practice on.

Your son always cancels plans at the last minute. Recently, you were waiting when they called to say they couldn’t make it.

Blaming statement:

“I” Statement:

Your daughter takes all phone calls in the middle of the night. you have repeatedly been woken up.

Blaming statement:

"I” Statement:

Your partner keeps borrowing money from your joint account, the balance is becoming a real issue and you are continually going into overdraft.

Blaming statement:

"I” Statement:

Try to use “I” statements to reduce emotional confrontations

"Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought it would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living." – Rachel Marie Martin


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