Confrontive I-Message Guidelines

An extremely effective approach to try when another's behavior is upsetting me, or interfering with my needs, is to respectfully tell the other person how his/her behavior is affecting me and give him/her the opportunity to voluntarily choose an alternative behavior that would help me out and also be acceptable to him/her.

If I sent such a message to you, it would be about me, not about you, and therefore would be an "I" message.

Messages about ourselves rather than about the other person tell others what is happening with us. They reveal who and what we are feeling. They are "self-disclosing" messages.

When we send I-Messages, we take responsibility for our unmet need; we are proactive.

Well constructed I-Messages are very effective at influencing people to consider changing their behavior to help us out. Such messages strengthen working relationships.

Ready to confront? Got all three parts? Ask yourself, where's the BEF?

  • The Behavior-a non-blameful description of what the Other did or said (or didn't say or do) that was unacceptable. (Give examples.)
  • The concrete, tangible Effect-how the behavior interfered with my needs, or threatened to; what it has or will cost me. (Give examples.)
  • Feeling-the emotion(s) I feel in response to the behavior's effects on me. (Give examples.)