Are you aware that communicating through positivity and self-awareness can have a direct impact on your relationship? Unhappiness can arise from unproductive thinking patterns, but also from unproductive and negative communication patterns. Part of the power of positive thinking is accepting responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. In relationships, individuals tend to use “you” statements opposed to “I” statements, which subsequently can create a cyclical negative pattern of thoughts and communication. Learning how to accept responsibility for your feelings is one of the most important communication skills that you can acquire. “You” statements typically start with the words “You are…” and come across factual, implying that the whole person is a certain way. It’s understood that in the moment you might feel upset or negative about the situation. Restructuring your way of communicating can create a safe environment for discussion and result in a more positive and solution focused outcome. For example, instead of saying “You are selfish” a more accurate and effective way to communicate your thought might be “ I resent it when you make plans for the entire family without asking what the rest of us want to do.” While the person on the receiving end still might not feel positive about what you have shared, you have taken ownership of your feelings and thoughts and most likely created an opportunity for a problem solving discussion. “I” statements should consist of a description of how you feel, conditions under which you feel this way and why those conditions cause your emotions and thoughts. These statements are more constructive, less commanding, threatening and judgmental. Therefore “I” statements can lead to less defensiveness and negativity at the start of the conversation. “I” statements can be effective when communicating with your partner, children, parents, friends and in the workplace. By doing so, you are learning how to turn your positive thinking into powerful and positive communication, which can have a significant impact on all of your relationships.
Written by: Emily Tonn, RMHCI