Power struggles in arguments can become boring, frustrating, and lead to no progress. Do you sometimes feel beside yourself unable to communicate what you need? An effective way of communicating what you need clearly and concisely all while owning the content yourself is the “I” statement. It is a little more difficult to execute than one might think, but with a little practice anyone can be an expert. The key elements to an “I” statement is to not use the word “you” and to be clear with what you want. The statement is usually best constructed in two parts: the first sentence is saying how you feel with what is troubling you: the second is saying what you want changed.
What makes the “I” statement effective is not placing the status quo to whom you are addressing; it keeps the ball in your park and does not allow for a power struggle. For example: if I am feeling put down when my partner unnecessarily criticizes me and wrongfully judges me, the statement most people go to is “I hate it when you criticize me!”. Here, the emphasis is placed on my partner; they can easily deny and will likely reply with “I don’t criticize you!”, and now my rebuttal will be ‘Yes you do!”. We can see how this turns into a power struggle with bantering going back and forth with “you! You! You!”
To turn this into an “I” statement, I can set it up like this: “I feel belittled and put down when I am harshly criticized. I do not want to be unnecessarily judged”. This is excellent. I stated how I am feeling when “x” happens and I clearly stated what I want in turn.
A final note is that it is okay to repeat this as many times until your point is heard. It is okay to calmly say it three or four times. With a little practice, this can be an effective means of owning and communicating what someone is feeling and what they want.