It's often recommended that if we have an emotional reaction, to something that has happened in our lives, to someone else's behavior, or to the way that we are treated, we should own that emotion. It doesn't mean we condone what happened, but that we make the decision about what to do next. I suppose it's focused on moving away from trying to fix others, and focusing on what we allow in our lives. This is something I've been working on myself, in every type of relationship I have (work, family, friends, etc.). I'm wondering if anyone else feels the difference between, "I'm angry because I've been waiting for an hour" and "I'm angry because you are an hour late." Is it hard for others to shift from "you" to "I" in this way? Would it work all the time? When would it be appropriate to stick with the "you"?
I'm curious about others opinion on this.
I was told in an interpersonal communications course to avoid using You and assigning blame when expressing anger. This has been a very difficult task for me. Also, just saying I feel..... Does not always work. Defensive people may get riled up no matter what approach is taken. One of my pet peeves is people who are habitually very late so I try to avoid them if possible. They always have excuses. Sometimes lateness is due to poor time management but I feel that it is a narcissistic, passive aggressive behavior. My time is just as important as people who are always late. But not to them I guess. Back to your question about using You or I, tone of voice and body language communicate as much or more than words.
Had to think about this for awhile. I try to own my reactions, responses etc. That doesn't mean I ignore other's inappropriate behavior. It just means I am responsible for how I respond to their behavior no matter what they do. Also if I don't use 'you' or 'your' when talking about someone's bad behavior I'm being less accusatory and trying to give them space to recognize what I'm pointing out. Having said all that I definitely don't always succeed at doing this. Good post!
I generally go with 'we' or 'us'. As in: "This system we have here doesn't seem to be working out well for us. Shall we talk about how we can fix it?" It's usually more productive to invite someone to be part of the solution instead of blaming them for the problem.. If it's a new and personal relationship that isn't working for me, I'll say something like, "I don't think the dynamic between us is a good one. It's no one's fault ~ we just have wildly different expectations and we don't seem to be a good match." This has the advantage of being true and the approach is especially useful when dealing with teens who are romantically involved with someone who isn't good to/for them. My youngest daughter, an otherwise incredibly bright girl, was smitten with a boy who would very subtly undermine her self confidence. When she would become emotional and insecure, he'd be there to 'save' her. She was unable to see the manipulation: she could only see the comfort. I knew that if I blasted him, she'd automatically defend him so I said, "I like Aaron fine. He's smart and funny and I feel bad for him because his mother is an alcoholic. I'm not always so sure about the dynamic between the two of you, though. Do you ever think about that? It doesn't have to be anyone's fault ~ sometimes it just takes a while to see the big picture and to realize maybe this situation isn't working out so well. You're a smart girl. You'll figure everything out." (She wound up marrying someone who is nothing like Aaron, thank goodness!)
Yes, am able to do so now, this was a few decades in the making and IS a life long process. Have learned by loss and that grief. There are at least two sides to conflict and often more to this plus to resolution. The blame game only causes more grief.
By learning to remove myself until I cool down when angry plus staying constructively distracted in the meanwhile, I can emotionally digest... so, cope a lot better. The primal brain doesn't get the better of me as often!
Not taking things personally is one thing I still focus on.
Sounds like something to keep in mind for appropriate circumstances, but I also see how it could be seen as a bit passive aggressive. I can see it working in your "waiting an hour" example.
I was taught to make "I feel..." statements, but then they would usually be followed with "that when you do this..." right after. Looking back at my previous dysfunctional relationship, I think I used "You" accusations now and then, knowing it was not positive communication, because I was trying to get out of the relationship, and offering reasons. Sometimes one just has to say exactly what one feels.
However in a good healthy relationship worth saving, or family matters, yes, any reminders of not placing blame and owning your own feelings is likely good.
I have always believed in taken responsibility for my reaction. but I have learned about that skill about 6 months ago. I am working with the "I "statements it works sometimes. it's hard doing this because I am so used to the "you" statements. but I like it because it makes it easier to express my feeling in a more assertive manner.
Yes. Absolutely. I could not agree with you more. Learned the importance of the skill at Brotherhood/Sisterhood U.S.A. while in high school; and learned some more when I worked for a conflict resolution consulting firm years ago.
The below is similar regarding the use of the word "you" and is one of my pet peeves. ESPECIALLY when it comes to conversations about feelings or when the person feels vulnerable. Example:
"You know when you've been seeing somebody and everything is great and you feel on top of the world? And, then out of the blue, it all just crashes and you see that they are not who you thought they were? You feel so discombobulated, and you just want to throw the towel in and become a hermit. You know what I mean?"
Grrrrrr...... when it's your own experience, OWN it. Use "I."
Expecting others to change is a recipe for disappointment. Sometimes they will, but at least as often they won't, some say more often.
Focus on what you can definitely change, and that's only you.
If you don't want to be angry for waiting an hour, do you expect that you can change the other person to stop them from being late? What about the next time someone else is late, are you going to try and change them after getting angry at a new person? What if you figured out a way to stop getting angry, expect that others are sometimes late and have a game plan to occupy your time or time check or anything else. Take steps to mitigate that person wasting your time in the future as they do not respect you as much as you'd like.
You're correct that it is a method to focus on what you can affect.
"Easy for YOU to say that !!!!!"........ And that right there confirms that what you're saying really make sense, no doubt. It may seem like semantics but, if at the end of the day we can put ourselves into someone else shoes for a minute, that should help a lot in most cases.
I totally get why it's healthier to avoid saying "you." And I strive to do this in all my relationships, but I'm not always successful. It's particularly hard when dealing with my ex, but I'm happy to be able to say that we've worked through the worst of everything. We now coparent rather well, as there's nothing left to fight over. Placing blame on others is just a way to justify our emotions that we don't like to have, instead of owning them and dealing with them.
I know some people (one in particular) that won't EVER take responsibility for anything. No matter how asinine the external messages (including a crying daughter, due to just being shouted at for not "getting it" ), they still can't see a problem. Frasier Crane would likely call it extreme narcissistic personality disorder (LOVE that show!).
Either way, I see a bit of that in me, so I always try and raise myself outside of the confines of my annoyance and see if I am being ridiculous. I then try to proportion my reaction by this finding.
Another thing to consider is hypocricy. If you arrive late to some preplanned event, have I done the same thing before? This can extend to any social faux pas.
Interestingly, this is also a common thread amongst the narcissists in my life. Expecting all to deal with their flaws and faux pas, but not being able to overlook anyone elses.
It is often counter productive to over think stuff like this. The underlying argument is that it isn't the situation but how it is internalized or projected. The rest is just semantics. Me, I only last Thursday afternoon quit using the imperial "we".
This is a technique that can be very effective in general use with strangers or friendly acquaintances, or in the early days of an intimate relationship, but for a long-term relationship it can feel alienating to find your S.O. using a technique on you. It sort of signals that there isn’t enough trust between you to relax, be yourself, and weather the normal daily climate of a relationship.
One way to inoculate the relationship against this problem is to cultivate the opposite stance humorously when there are no issues extant. It requires a sturdy sense of self, and it’s probably not for everyone, but if you are thoroughly in the habit of jokingly blaming the other person for everything you both know is your own fault, then when you really do commit an offense and defensively blame your partner it appears to all like a joke and the habitual ensuing laughter helps you both glide right over it. Getting blamed for something is instinctively taken by the blamee as an admission of guilt from the blamer.
Yes. It absolutely works. I'm pretty sure adopting this new way of communicating is what has made my marriage work. It also puts you in a different perspective, giving credit to you're involvement in the issue. No one is innocent. For me personally I married a man who was never taught how to communicate about his feelings or emotions and turned to drugs for comfort. Taking the "you" out of conversations allowed him to be able to hear me instead of immediately being defensive and running away to his old comfort. Definitely recommended this for everyone
This is a nuance that I don't understand... Someone saying "you" to me has zero additional negative impact. I always own my mistakes and admit when I'm wrong because I'm wrong all the time lol that's how we learn. I also don't have a typical emotional response...
Sticking with your work theme, As a manager who does goal setting and evaluation of subordinates one would be remiss to avoid using the word "you" when coaching your staff. One tool that I used was the S.M.A.R.T. model. Many examples of this can be found online. I have included one for your convenience.
Listening to someone talk in the 2nd person universal is bad enough.
Once any variant of "you" is used, there is no way to avoid needing another dozen instances to finish a thought.
When this "style" is used in writing of any kind, especially instruction manuals, I get crazy.
And then, when you are finished working with your music program on your computer in your studio, you should use your index finger on your hand to click your mouse button to hi-lite your clip in your song displayed on your monitor.
And then use your ring finger (or your middle finger) on your hand to click your right button on your mouse to display your context menu so you can choose from your choices to change your clip in the way you want to,...
And then when you are happy that you did what you wanted to process your clip in your song, click FILE on your menu in your program to save your project to your folder on your hard-drive.