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Creating effective “I Messages”

"I Messages" are a great SEL tool for conveying our emotional needs. However, they can sometimes be used to make accusations. We can prevent that from happening with this simple tweak in the I Message format.

Which is a more effective way for you (or your students) to communicate your frustration with someone?

A. “You’re always interrupting me! You think your opinion is more important than everyone else’s.”

B. “I feel frustrated when I am interrupted because I really want you to hear what I have to say.”

If you said B, you chose the “I Message.” I Messages are a basic tool of social and emotional learning. They encourage us to speak from our own experience rather than attributing negative behaviors or intentions to others. In doing so, we can powerfully and peacefully convey our emotional needs. Many of us are familiar with the basic form of an I Message:

“I Message” script sample

I feel ( describe feeling) when ( describe situation) because I ( explain the impact of the behavior.)

To learn more about I Messages and how to use them in the classroom, click here.