Confrontation starts when people express different experiences and interests. If we cannot express our interests, we cannot effectively manage or resolve conflict. “I” statements are a way to express our interests directly without evoking unnecessary defensiveness in the other party. By using “I” statements we take ownership of our feeling and our position, which makes it easier for the other person to listen to us. “I” statements increase the chance that the other partner will respond positively to your interests. For example – “I feel hurt when you don’t listen to my proposed ideas”
The “I” Statement Formula for Success:
- Ownership – “I feel frustrated with the progress on this project.”
- Problem – “I get worried when I see that 3 jobs are overdue.”
- Intermediate goal – “I am interested in determining commitments to action on these jobs.”
- End goal – “because we need to complete this project on time and according to plan.”
Confirming the Other Person’s Point of View
What we say to the other party helps us to suspend our interests and to remain open to change. Here are some steps for confirming the other person’s point of view:
- Slow down the process. Take time out. Take a breath, particularly if you encounter a negative tone.
- Shift your thinking and feeling away from yourselves and toward the other person’s experience. This process takes an act of will.
- Ask a constructive questions if you lack information (but don’t ask in the spirit of inquisition)
- Imagine what the other person thinks and feels. Take another deep breath.
- Confirm the person’s feelings, experience, and perspective. Act confidently as you do this. Remember you are not agreeing with other person’s reasons, and you are not surrendering your interests or principles.
- Offer to help as appropriate.
- Continue to negotiate.
For example: “I understand what you are saying and I can imagine how you must feel, can you help me understand a little more about your situation.”
Practice Using 'I' Statements
Whilst you're here, why not practice using 'I' statements by writing down an 'I' Statement for each of the following situations
- When a colleague has let you down on a project deadline
- When your boss overloads you with work
- When a customer complains about a late/ incorrect delivery
- When supplier has let you down once again
- When your partner has left a wet/ dirty towel on the bathroom floor again!
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