You Know What They Say: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

i-messages prevent conflictsRaise your hand if you would love to prevent conflicts! Okay, that’s a lot of hands. Here’s a tool to help you do just that! In our workshops, we teach when and how to send I-Messages—the concept of the Confrontive I-Message was created by Dr. Thomas Gordon.) Linda Adams added a few more and they are mighty helpful. Read on!

The Preventive I-Message is a way of preventing problems and conflicts in a relationship.

The Preventive I-Message lets others know what you need and want.

The theory behind the Preventive I-Message is that other people are better able to help you meet your needs if they have a clear picture of what you want.

A Preventive I-Message, like all I-Messages, is direct, clear and congruent.

There are three major steps in sending a preventive assertion:

  1. You must know what you want or need and why. And you must arrive at a solution that will probably meet your need.
  2. You take personal responsibility for meeting your need.
  3. You act to meet your need; you assert to the person or persons whose cooperation you need.

The Preventive I-Message contains two parts (unlike the Confrontive I-Message which contains three—Behavior, Feeling and Effect):

  1. The assertion — a statement of what you want or need, and
  2. The reason — reason(s) for your need.

Preventive I-Messages can be sent when:

a. another person has previously blocked your meeting a need,
b. the other person has previously facilitated your meeting this need,
c. you have no experience with the person with regard to your need.

Example: Let’s say that you love painting and that recently you have wanted to spend some time on it. You work during the week so the weekend is the only available time. It’s important for you to have quiet, uninterrupted time for painting.

Your self-disclosure: “I’d like some time to myself this weekend…”

Your reason: “…because I want to finish a painting I’ve been doing.”

In other cases you may want to give more information, tell the other person more about your needs.

Example: “I’d like to start an exercise program because I need to lose weight.”

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