Conflict is Kindergarten Work

I was shocked when my granddaughter brought home papers the first week of school, instructing parents how to teach their kindergarten child the use of the “I Messages” (“I feel ____when_____ because _____, and I need____”). This is astounding because our Phoenix Strategies’ higher education trainers teach “I Messages” to adult leaners. Many have advanced degrees and are often experienced in life’s lessons. We teach them “I messages” so that as conflict managers or coaches and mediators, they can assist disputants in communicating more effectively during conflict.

Using the word “I” helps the speaker take ownership for self-thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Omitting the word “you”, removes blaming another, and does not give control over of our own feelings or actions to another.

At the conclusion of a mediation, a disputant expressed gratitude for raising her awareness that she often assumed the other person’s motives or thoughts. She said, “I had no idea that this is how I communicate with others. I see how what I say irritates others. I have a habit of saying, ‘You think…’, ‘You believe…’, ‘You feel…’, ‘You want…’, ‘You tried to…(intention/motive)’. It’s annoying. It puts people on the defensive!”