“I-statements?!” Not again! Honestly, if I knew the theme for the study group was going to be “I Statements” that evening, I probably would have skipped it. I have heard many trainers teach participants how to form “I-statements”, and I completely understand how to create one. “I-statements” are used when you want to broach a serious subject that might be upsetting to a person. This way the person you are talking to might not get defensive and shut you out.

This trainer was different. She explained that “I-statements” could be used for setting limits or making requests. For example, if a kid is upsetting you and you want him/her to stop making the sound that reminds you of fingers on a chalkboard, instead of saying “Stop!” or “Cut it out!”, you could say, “I feel anxious when you make that sound, please stop.”

Examples from home:

  • I feel frustrated when the living room gets messy.
  • I feel worried when you are out past curfew.
  • I feel stressed out when music is too loud.
  • I feel disappointed when dishes aren’t rinsed off before they go in the sink.

Shocked, I say! I can’t begin to tell you how shocked I was to see these “I-statements” work in my own life. Working with a particularly challenging group of students, I used “I would appreciate it if everyone would sit down in their seats.” They all sat down! Not only did they all sit, but they stopped talking and looked up at me, ready to listen! It was amazing! Before I used “I statements”, it was about a 50-50 chance that the students would respond appropriately.

I know. This probably sounds a bit silly, but using “I-statements” has great potential. Try it out! Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you!

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