Improving our message, part 2

Did you try to pay more attention to those you were communicating with this last week? Do you become aware of your body language or your wandering mind? I want to share an interesting fact with you. We speak about 150-200 words a minute. Yet we listen to the rate of 400-600 words a minute. So what do we do with the difference? We start thinking about other things. We think about what we will say as soon as they are finished speaking (instead of listening). We think about what we have to do next. We think about some problem we are trying to solve. Are you counting the minutes till you can get aware of the speaker?

            What does this do to the quality of communication between the listener and speaker? It is not the positive enforcement the person needs to be helped (if we are trying to help a loved one). Today I am going to share with you two basic skills that can help improve conversation between you and your loved one.

            I-statements are very useful when you are bothered by what someone else is doing. They are a way for you to tell the other person without getting into an argument. I Statements state what you are thinking, how you are feeling and why you feel that way.

They most always begin with the word “I”. By following the steps of an I Statement,

you are less likely to let your temper ruin the message.



• Lets the other person know what you want

• Avoids arguments and reduces misunderstandings

• Allows you to calmly say how you feel about their behavior

• Results in better cooperation from others


1. Say how YOU feel about the behavior.

2. Name the specific behavior that bothers you.

3. Suggest what you want to see happen next time.

4. (optional) Warn of a specific consequence if the behavior continues.


1. “I get worried and upset when you are late and don’t phone me. I want you to phone so

I’ll know where you are. If you don’t do that next time, I will start calling to your friends’


2. “I feel hurt when you call me names. I want it to stop. It’s fine to tell me how you

feel when you are angry.”


Saying “you did this wrong” or “you did that bad thing” often makes people

feel angry and hostile. “I” statements can help you communicate your feelings to your loved one in a way that makes him likely to respond with respect. “I” statements also provide the listener with clear, direct messages and help them understand that their actions have effects on other people.

“I” statements also can be used to express positive feelings:

  • When you are nice to your brother, I feel happy because I like to see

you getting along with others.

  • When you make your counseling appointments, I feel relieved because I feel that it is going to help you with your future.

is important.

  • When you take your meds, I feel positive because it shows me that

you are taking care of yourself so you can feel better.

Along with I-statements comes active listening. Active listening is when the receiver is restating back to the sender what they said (content) in their own words. This allows the sender to know if the receiver understood what they were saying.


“What I’m hearing you say is…”

“Sounds like you are saying…”

What do you mean when you say…”

Is this way you mean….”

Ask questions to clarify.

I-statements and active listening allow the two communicators to respond in a non-judgmental way. Feelings are not wrong. Sometimes it is what we do as a result of feelings that may cause problems.

This coming month, I want you to try to use I-statements and active listening. Concentrate on the person you are with. One never knows how short a time we have with our loved one. Listening and communicating shows how much we care. Next time, we will explore more communication skills.