Do you sometimes feel that when you are having conversations or even arguments, you don’t always feel heard? Or the other person might be on the defense of what you are saying to them? It can be hard sometimes to articulate what we are feeling or thinking, even when we are trying to do it in a way where we are being understood. This goes back to communication skills. When our communication skills are rusty, our relationships can suffer. Improving the way we communicate with ourselves and others can better those relationships. As a Tampa Therapist, read on for tips. 

The Power of “I”

A good place to start is “I” statements or “I feel” statements. This is a simple way to start changing your communication habits. A change in how we say things in conversations can go a long way in having both people feel heard and like they are able to say what is on their minds.

“I” statements or “I feel” statements are a tool that can be used to communicate your feelings, beliefs, or thoughts to someone. These statements push the tone towards how the speaker feels and less on what the listener did. The use of the statements can really minimize a tone that can sound accusatory to the listener, where it can be easier to get defensive. 

These statements help with connecting your feelings to either your behaviors or someone else’s behaviors, in an assertive way, without pointing fingers or placing blame. This tool allows the speaker to control their feelings and thoughts without placing blame on the listeners’ actions. This tool can also be very effective when a conflict or an argument occurs. When using “I feel” statements, we are taking the primary focus off any blame and focusing it on the speaker’s feelings and thoughts. This can be effective in problem-solving and help shift the conversation’s tone. If the speaker is using a less accusatory tone, the listener is less likely to become defensive and try to use the same dialogue or communication style as the speaker. The “I” statements can clarify and open the conversation. 

How to Feel Heard

“I feel” statements can look like various things depending on the topic of conversation and/or the feelings of the speaker. The first part of using these statements is first to understand how you are feeling in the moment. When you, as the speaker, start you will use “I feel___” this important statement right here will turn the conversation to how the speaker is feeling and not immediately placing blame on the listeners behaviors or thoughts. After you state your feeling, you will then connect it with either a behavior, action, or issue you are having. For example, “I feel frustrated when there are dishes left in the sink after I cleaned the kitchen”.

At this point you have stated your feelings and have pointed the issue or behavior and have connect the two. The attention is still on the speakers’ feelings and why the speaker is feeling this way. The next and final step of these statements is to provide a possible to solution to relieving some of these feelings. Let’s go back to the example; “I feel frustrated when they’re dishes left in the sink after I cleaned the kitchen. I would like it if you used dishes after I have cleaned that they could be cleaned or put in dishwasher.” This example of an “I feel” statement allows the speaker to identify their feelings about an issue and then provide a possible solution the listener could consider. There has been no blame placed and it focused on how the speaker is feeling in the moment and what could relieve any of that distress. 

As a Tampa Therapist, here a few examples of statements that could be easily followed by a defense tone and then examples of how it can be changed into an “I feel” statement.

  • “You never take out the trash.
    • “I feel angry when I am always taking out the trash. I would like if we could split this chore.
  • “You don’t ask my opinion on purpose.”
    • “I feel sad when my opinion is not asked. I would like us both to get to share our opinions on the matter.”
  • “You don’t even care.”
    • “I feel sad when my feelings are brushed off. I would like it if you could listen to what I have to say before saying what you feel.” 

These are a few examples where we have “you” statements that take on an accusatory tone, followed by “I feel” statements where we can hear the speakers feelings and the reason for it, followed by a potential solution. The important thing to remember is to try and avoid “you” or blaming language when trying to express your feelings during a conflict. 

There has been a lot of benefits from the use of “I feel” statements, where conflicts don’t last as long, both parties have an opportunity to feel seen and heard and an overall improvement in communication.

If you would like more support in communicating in your relationships, please contact a Tampa Therapist today.