Responding with I-Statements for Effective Conflict Resolution

In a previous post I discussed the ways in which using I-Statements to express yourself may be helpful in preventing the escalation of conflict with others. Here are some examples of how to use the I-Statement template as shared in that post:

The template statement is as follows: I feel (emotion) when/because (trigger).

Here are some examples:

  • I feel sad when I can’t tell you how I feel.
  • I feel frustrated because I didn’t get the help I needed.
  • I feel lonely when I’m not invited.

I also shared examples of how to use I-Statements to establish boundaries in your relationships with others while working to resolve conflict.

The template statement then becomes: I feel (emotion)  when/because (trigger). I would appreciate it if/it would be helpful if (how would you like them to behave differently).
Here are some examples:

  • I feel sad when I can’t tell you how I feel. It would be helpful if you allowed me to speak uninterrupted.
  • I feel frustrated because I didn’t get the help I needed. I would appreciate it if you help me the next time I ask for your assistance.
  • I feel annoyed when you are late. It would be helpful if you called to let me know that you need more time.

It is just as important for us to respond in situations where the escalation of conflict is possible, in ways that support problem solving and de-escalation. Here are examples of how you can use the I-Statement template to do so:

Response template statement: You sound (emotion they expressed) because (your acknowledgment of the action/behavior that triggered the emotion). Next time I will  (show sincerity by expressing a plan for change). See my post on apology languages to learn why this is important.

Here are some examples: 

  • You sound sad because I didn’t give you a chance to speak. Next time I will wait my turn to speak.
  • You sound annoyed because I keep showing up late. Next time I will do my best to set an alarm and give you a heads up when I know I’m going to be late.

The goal in framing your response using this language is to validate how the person is feeling, to show that you understand why they feel that way and to express sincerity in your attempt to make amends. I think that it is important for me to reiterate that using the technique effectively takes practice; However, the more you practice the more likely you are to use it when most necessary.

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