How to get rid of the ever-present offensive “You”

Can words make or break your relationship and image?

The answer is an unambiguous “Yes.”

Try to look back to the last conversation you had with a staff or loved one where both of you started a conversation peaceably but ended up having problem, conflict or angry conversation and, both became extremely emotional and couldn’t resolve what seemed to be the sudden problem.

What triggered the extreme emotion?

You may say it was a difference of opinion over the subject you discussed, and that is in part true. On the other hand from experience and study, my position on this is that even though you both differed in your opinions on the subject, it was not the difference that heightened the conversation to an emotional neck or decreased it. Rather, it was words that were used more either by one of you or both of you as you each put forward argument or contradicting argument. 

I would bet that the word being thrown around mostly more than any other words and the one that nudged the conversation into conflict was ‘you’ for example; “You are the reason…” “If not for you …” “You always do/say that.” “You don’t seem to get anything ...” “I know where you are going with this.” “You will never …” “I don’t think you are.” “You always do that to me.” “You never do anything right,” etc.

Do any of these phrases ring a bell? What sort of responses do they bring?  The answer is intense emotion. Why does a simple word such as ‘you’ cause big problem? The reason is because it always suggests blame or criticism.

How to get rid of the ever-present problem causing ‘You’
 Because the ‘you’ message implies blame or criticism, when you used as part of the feedback process  and triggers the other person’s natural fight or flight defense  mechanism, it’s better avoided and use the ‘I’ message instead.

The following is an approach you can use:
I feel a bit uncomfortable with the way this conversation is going.  Please let’s leave it for now” instead of “I don’t like it when you talk like this, let’s just forget about this!”

I’ve noticed lately that the register is ruled late. This seems unusual to me. Has anything happened recently that might have led to this late coming?”  Instead of “You are taking your job for granted and a result you don’t come to work early. You do this again and then, you can start looking for job in another place.”

 “I felt let down that there is no more love in this relationship.”  Instead of “You don’t love me anymore.”

I like my instructions followed please” instead of “You can’t ever follow instructions.”

“It’s disappointing to me that the issue of disrespect happens regularly in this relationship” instead of “You have no respect for me.”

Note the emphasis on the above messages is directly on the issues, not the people involved. Communicate in this way and you, your loved ones or your staff can focus quite rationally on solving problems rather than defending each other’s words and actions in future conversation.

What will you say next time you have to tell someone they are annoying you?

When conversation takes the upsetting route, take a few moments to think and prepare positive response using the ‘I’ message. You can do this mentally while sitting or standing in front of the person or send them a message if conversation is exchange via the phone.

Using ‘I’ message is such an important rule, that we will look at in future post.

Rewrite the following sentences using the ‘I’ message

You should have called earlier since you know you will be late.”
You are always so dirty.”
You made me angry.”

Start putting the ‘I’ message into practice. Comment on this article, give it a like, share it and follow for more skills for the real world.

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