DESCRIBE - Describe the undesirable behavior that the person is displaying. Be very specific. Example from the cartoon – “You are picking on me!”
EXPRESS - Express how this behavior makes you feel. Use your feeling words and “own” your emotions. Example – “You are picking on me and that makes me angry!”
SPECIFY – Name an alternative behavior – Tell how things need to change. Example – “You are picking on me and that makes me feel angry. You need to keep your hands to yourself.”
CONSEQUENCES - Tell how things will change if the person changes their behavior. The consequences can be positive or negative. Always try positive consequences first. Example – Positive- “You are picking on me and that makes me feel angry. You need to keep your hands to yourself, and we will be better friends.” Negative – “You are picking on me and that makes me feel angry. You need to keep your hands to yourself or I will not sit with you at lunch.”
Using positive “I” messages is a useful tool when a person wants to resolve problems with other individuals successfully. You gain more respect for yourself because you defended yourself without being unkind to others.
“I” messages help you live above the line by helping you take the “power” to resolve conflict peacefully, by helping you to make the “choice” not to be aggressive or passive, by giving you the “freedom” to express your feelings to another person, and by letting you take the “responsibility” to handle conflict yourself peacefully.
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