Gregory Jaquet shares useful tricks that can help improve relationships through more peaceful conversations.
The “Speaking of I” conversational hack is not only famous, it is an excellent tool. It helps create relationships based on expressed emotions and needs instead of abstract concepts and items that need to be decoded by the other person.
I was taught this extremely useful idea by my girlfriend a couple of years ago. She told me she had learned it from workshops in non-governmental organizations—the simple idea of expressing personal problems or opinions in the first person. She suggested I try doing that in our everyday conversations.
As I’ve been writing lately about tools to manage anger, let’s discuss this precise and essential way of communicating.
Here’s the trick: in conversations, begin phrases with I + verb.
In any argument, with our wives, husbands, children or friends, we are used to protecting ourselves by judging others’ behaviors or mentioning what is right or wrong. You said that… you never do what I want when.. you are wrong because…
Let’s make an effort. Simply change our way of expressing ourselves. It will help us discover the wide range of emotions we can express in our languages. I felt disappointed when you said that.. I am sad because I did not receive what I wanted when.. I need peace for a few minutes when I come back from… I feel jealous when you talk about…
Focusing on what we feel helps to create a non-violent conversation. Because what you feel cannot really be condemned. That is what you feel, how can that be attacked?
If the conversation is an argument, all partners in the conflict will have to think about why they feel that way or what they can do to make themselves feel different. Plus, it helps us to listen to our feelings and put them into words. Instead of arguing about how something should or shouldn’t be, we think about what we feel and can therefore tell the other person with much more precision. When I began to tell my girlfriend that I was sad, I was disappointed or that I felt scared, it improved significantly the way we understood each other.
Men probably know how to identify their emotions, but we often ignore how to express them. Or do not dare. A man that dares to speak of his emotions—without using a “one thinks that” or “we men think”—more accurately represents himself and his feelings, and this will help create an open, positive relationship.