I Statements vs. You statements

The way you communicate with others can dramatically influence the outcome.

‘I statements’ is a technique that is used in effective communication. These statements usually begin with the word ‘I’ and is based on the feelings of the speaker, rather than the characteristics of the listener or the way the speaker perceives the listener.

Why Use ‘I Statements’?

I always try to use these types of statements when communicating. As someone who has spoken and listened to both types of statements, I can tell the difference. And as someone who recently fell victim to someone using ‘you statements’, I can tell you that the following rings true:

  • ‘I statements’ are more effective.
  • ‘I statements’ focuses on your feelings rather than the way you perceive the listener.
  • ‘I statements’ makes the listener more willing to communicate and ‘fix’ the problem.
  • ‘I statements’ allows you to truly express your emotions, and for the listener to truly listen instead of becoming defensive right away.
  • “Even when you have the best of intentions, what you say can escalate an argument into a full-blown fight and really hurt the one you love” (Tony Robbins, n.d.). Using I statements can be a way to avoid this.
  • When people use ‘you statements’, they show no ownership of emotions, but rather, blame, accuse and assume the receiver. This type of statement is more likely to make your partner feel defensive and resentful, and he or she will be less likely to want to make peace” (Tony Robbins, n.d.).

Example 1

You statement: You make me so mad!

I statement: I feel frustrated when you ________

Example 2

You statement: Stop cancelling our plans!

I statements: I feel upset when you cancel our plans.

Example 3

The examples above are very simple, but a lot of the time, the situation is more complex. 

You statement: You are always on your phone when we’re together. You don’t care about me.
I statement: I feel upset and unimportant if you’re on your phone too much when we’re together. It makes me feel like you don’t value our time together.

Tony Robbins. (n.d.). Words Matter: “You” vs. “I”. Retrieved from https://www.tonyrobbins.com/love-relationships/words-matter-you-vs-i/

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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