Nov 15, 2010

Do You Need To Use Preventive I-Messages?

Holiday Season and Communication

The holidays. What can be a very stressful time of the year - with family/friends visiting, traveling, holiday shopping and everything in between - it is important to remember what the upcoming festivities are about. Self-disclosure and effective communication will benefit healthy relationships. This is where we all could practice using our Preventive I-Messages.

Self-disclosure is direct and congruent communication and action. It involves sharing with other people what’s going on inside you (needs, feelings, wants). The Preventive I-Message is a communication to someone who is significant in your life, someone who can help you in getting your needs met. It is a direct, clear, and congruently strong expression, avoiding either submissive or aggressive overtones. It contains, to a greater or lesser degree, a possible solution to your need, representing the responsibility you have taken to understand and then act to meet your own needs.
The benefits or advantages of the Preventive I-Message extend to you, the other person, and the health of the on-going relationship, including the following results:
You maintain awareness, responsibility and control of your needs and feelings.
Others know your needs and the strength of your feelings about them.
You model openness, directness, thus encouraging reciprocal self-disclosure by others.
Others are better able to meet your needs when they have a clear picture of what you want.
Others have advance notice of your need and can adjust their behavior accordingly.
You and others reduce the chances of future conflicts that can result from unknown or uncommunicated needs.
You reduce the element of surprise, unpreparedness, and unexpected conflict from the relationship.
You save yourself and others time, energy and resources that can result from unanticipated conflicts.
You plan your life, take responsibility and prepare for future needs.
The Preventive I-Message generally consists of two parts: (1) the self-disclosure ("I want..." or "I need...") and (2) the reason (usually desired consequence) for the self-disclosure ("I want...because...").
Here is an example of a Preventive I-Message:
"I'd really like to visit my folks this year as part of our vacation...I miss them and really feel out of touch with their lives."*
*Excerpt from Gordon Training International's Be Your Best Participant Workbook

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