Use the power of “I” statements

Communication is more productive when your choose your words carefully, particular when the words are first person pronouns.

The use of “I” can help clarify that you are speaking from your own perspective. This can soften criticism and also open the door to ongoing discussion and dialog.

For example, instead of saying, “This project is a failure,” you might say, “I am very concerned about the sustainability of this project.”

The use of “I” can also be used to signal ownership and accountability. This use of first person singular can be used to establish a shared commitment.

Rather than making a “you” statements (“You haven’t done anything”) which can set up a cycle of judgment and defensiveness, one can say, “I can see there’s still a lot to be done.” This signals shared responsibility, but also the shared accountability of: “We need to get this done; we are accountable”.

Communication is key to leadership. But it’s not easy to communicate effectively when the things that need to get done aren’t getting done fast enough. This is particularly true when those to whom you are speaking are receiving conflicting messages while interacting with one another to achieve their goals in complex organizations. 

For more, see our entire article here.

Jim Hazy

Founder and CEO, Leadership Science, LLC

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