To communicate is to send a message to someone else who receives and understands the intended meaning. It sounds simple, but anyone who has been part of a misunderstanding knows that it isn’t always easy, especially when you are trying to solve a problem.
Expressing feelings is an essential part of effective communication, because it lets us signal the importance of the message.
Negative vs positive communication
“You’re not helping!”
When feelings are expressed in a negative way, by blaming those feelings on the actions of others, it may result in those people becoming defensive and the problem not being solved.
“I feel upset when you don’t help clean up because it’s everyone’s job to tidy.”
When feelings are expressed in a positive way and you take responsibility for the way you are feeling, others may be more likely to listen, acknowledge your feelings and include them in their thinking.
How do I use positive communication?
An “I‐statement” is a way of sharing our feelings about a situation without accusing the other person and making them defensive. When we begin statements with “I feel” rather than “you are”, our statements are less aggressive and accusing. We are still getting across how we feel, but in a way that is less likely to worsen a conflict.
I feel _______ when you _______ because ______.
“I felt angry when you knocked over our project because we spent a lot of time on it.”