Before you say something to your partner, or anyone for that matter, first ask yourself, “Is it kind?” If the answer is no, then don’t say it. Or say it in a different way. Sounds simple, right? It’s not, especially during an argument. “Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explains in an interview with The Atlantic, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.” Treat your partner and others like they’re someone you love.
Have you heard of I Statements? This is one of the best techniques to get your feelings across without anger, blaming, shaming. Basically, you are telling someone how you feel when they do or don’t do something. “I feel disrespected when you don’t follow through with what you tell me you’re going to do.” This sounds much more respectful and without anger than, “You never do what you say you’re going to do and this makes me mad.” See the difference? You are taking responsibility for your feelings. Not blaming someone for the feelings you have.
This technique also requires you to stop and think. In an argument you often just react with your words. But by taking the time to figure out what you want to say as an I Statement, you step back and think rather than just blurt out hurtful words. Definitely changes the tone of the interaction.
Give it a try. Think, is this kind? Think, how can I say this in an I Statement? You’ll see the difference.