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