Using an ‘I Statement’ can help you articulate your needs in a neutral, non-threatening way. Your request is made in a manner that allows the other person to hear it well and act upon it.
The best part is that I Statements enable you to become accountable for your own emotions and thoughts in a way that builds a stronger, more open relationship with colleagues and customers.
What’s an "I Statement"?
An I Statement is really just a framework or script used for conveying information. If you’ve ever done a role-play or read a script you’ll be able to use I Statements. They work because they invite the other person to join you in resolving the issue. You’re not just imposing your will upon him or her.
What’s the Formula??
I Statement formula is a string of specific clauses:
1. state what happened
2. how it impacted you (feelings and consequence)
3. your desired new behavior
4. the motivator
5. the consequence
Here’s how the phrasing would sound in a sentence:
When you missed providing the data by the deadline, I was frustrated because we couldn’t make your insertion deadline at the magazine and we missed an opportunity for exposure. Next time, please call ahead so I can negotiate to get you more time. Otherwise, you won’t be able to achieve your marketing goals.
Or you could say, “Don’t miss another deadline!”
Which do you think would be more effective?
Key Points for Success
1. Be direct.
I Statements work best when you can be very specific about the context and the desired new result. Don’t leave the other person guessing about when and what.
2. Use the “F” word- Feelings.
Although it might not seem very professional, talking about your feelings can be very helpful if done in an appropriate way. Expressing your feelings will give you some relief from them and allow the other person to know what impact their action has had upon you.
Go beyond the basics of happy, mad or sad. Try bemused or perplexed or others to capture the exact feeling. And, if you catch yourself throwing in ‘that’, as in, “I feel that…” you’re expressing a thought, not a feeling. Rephrase it to a feeling.
3. Be open to dialogue
Using the I Statement may open up a whole new conversation about how to get the best results for each of you. Be open and ready to generate other options to resolve the matter.
Getting What You Want
I Statements are an invaluable tool for understanding and getting what you want. They can open conversation and build better understanding between colleagues. Try one today.