An I-Message is a non-blameful way of talking to others when their behavior is causing a problem for you.
Since an I-Message doesn't blame the other person, s/he is much less likely to get defensive.
I-Messages are a way of taking responsibility of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas, feelings and needs and expressing them.
It's hard for someone to argue with you when you say, "I was really worried," or "I'm scared," or "I feel hurt," because you are telling them what it's like to be you, rather than sending blaming You-Messages.
With an I-Message, you're not making judgments about them or analyzing why they behaved the way they did.
A good I-Message usually contains three parts: (1) your real feelings, (2) the behavior of the other person that caused you a problem, (3) the effect that behavior has on you.
The most important part of an I-Message is the expression of your feelings--to do that, you need to get in touch with the real feelings you are experiencing and then express those feelings honestly.
A feeling is an experience or a sensation that you have in response to someone or something.
Basically, you experience a wide variety of either painful or pleasurable feelings; it is even sometimes hard to know whether the feeling is painful or pleasurable (e.g. when tickled, third helping of your favorite dessert, scratching mosquito bites).
Your feelings center in your body, not in your head (e.g., fear can be directly felt in shaking, heart pumping, stomach churning).
Thoughts are not the same as feelings; thoughts concern facts, information and knowledge--things in your head.
Your feelings are always changing, you never feel exactly the same from minute to minute place to place, person to person.
THE OTHER'S BEHAVIOR
An important purpose of an I-Message is describing the unacceptable behavior of the other person is a non-blameful way.
Another's behavior is only what you can directly observe, see, hear, smell, taste or feel.
Another's attitudes, feelings, motives and thoughts are not behaviors because you cannot directly observe them.
You can only guess about another's attitudes, motives and feelings. These guesses about what's going on inside another person are only judgments or evaluations.
These are behaviors:
- My brother almost ways has the remote control.
- My friend said s/he didn't like my new girl/boyfriend.
These are judgments of behaviors:
- He's selfish.
- My friend is jealous.*
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's F.E.T. Young Adult Resource Book