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“I” and “You” Language

If you want your partner to listen to you, use “I” not “You”.  I Language is sometimes known as Non-Violent Communication(NVC).

I Language You Language Equivalent
I feel frustrated/abandoned when you don’t turn up You’re always late
Sometimes I want/need you to show that you love me  You don’t love me
I often feel powerless with you You usually take control
I sometimes feel frightened when you drive You drive too fast
 I am frightened and can’t think straight when you seem to be angry. You always get angry
Interpretive You Language
 I feel frustrated when you seem to not to show any feelings You are hung up and phobic about showing feelings
 I sometimes feel curious and I make up that you shut me out of your past You always get angry because of how your mother treated you
I make up that you are neurotic and needy  You are so neurotic and needy

You language is polluted by ‘my opinion of you’. If the person listening disagrees; s/he may get defensive or aggressive, then the opportunity for connection is lost.

I Language is risky because it offers understanding about how we are different.  If I say what is happening to me over here in I Language, it reveals how I am different from you over there. True dialogue reaches towards non-judgemental acceptance of our differences. I language makes it easier to like and love difference.

I language stops arguments: nobody can argue with “I feel out of control”. However if I say “You always try to control me” the listener has an absolute right to argue. Or if I say something about a third party or object: “Frank is nasty”; that is disputable. But if I say “I feel creepy around Frank”, it’s harder to argue.

You language: obstructs Listening, often makes the listener angry, provokes interruption, avoids taking responsibility, is often “persecutor-victim” talk.

I Language: means being brave, showing your feelings & vulnerability. And I language  invites closeness, takes responsibility and leaves more space for the other to be him or herself.

See also:
Victims: A Challenge,
We Language
Empathy in Relationships
Negative Narratives

With thanks to Imago,
NVC, “Bridges not Walls” by J Stewart,
Games People Play by E Berne

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