The I-Message is now a term that is commonly used. Since the origination of the I-Message by Dr. Thomas Gordon in 1962, the term has been borrowed, misrepresented and generally watered-down. While the intention still aims at effectively confronting another in order to get your needs met, there is a true science and research behind Dr. Gordon's three part I-Message. Without each necessary piece, it simply will not work.In hopes to bring clarity to this commonly misunderstood term, President of Gordon Training International, Linda Adams, explains what an authentic I-Message really is:
"As developed by Dr. Gordon and as taught in all of our courses for parents, teachers and leaders, the I-Message has three parts: 1) A non-blameful description of the unacceptable behavior; 2) the concrete effect that behavior has on the sender; and 3) the feeling the sender has about that effect. In short, an I-Message includes: Behavior, Effect, Feelings. Examples of an I-Message from a parent to a child: “When the music is on so loud, I can’t concentrate on my work and that frustrates me” or “I was upset when the gas tank was almost on empty and I had to stop and get gas which made me late for work.” It doesn’t matter which order these three parts are in, just that they are all there.
The I-Message doesn’t contain a request or suggestion or solution about what the child or other person should do or what concrete action should be taken. An I-Message leaves responsibility with the other person to change their behavior out of consideration for the needs of the sender.
There’s another essential skill that’s needed with most I-Messages. Because people don’t usually like to hear that their behavior is interfering with someone else, they often respond in a defensive or resistant way. So the I-Message sender needs to be prepared to Active Listen to that resistance and hear the other person’s feelings in order to give the I-Message a better chance of being heard and responded to in a positive way."