13 Rules for Effective Communication in the Classroom #2 - "You" Statements


Thanks for joining us on this journey. We hope you'll tell us your stories and thoughts about each rule because we teachers are all in this together!

http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/13-rules-for-effective-communication-in.htmlIf you look back through my comments in Rule #1, you’ll notice I also broke Rule #2. Every statement started with a word that is bound to spark defensive feelings in our students — YOU. You can almost see the invisible finger we’re pointing at them, and some of us might have even used a real finger (with our finger angled just right and our elbow dipping just so). How do you feel when a finger is pointed at you?

Question: So what do we say instead of “You”?
Answer: “I feel.”

Instead of saying, “You need to get back to work,” you might say, “I feel like you might not realize how little time you have. Please get back to work.”
Instead of, “You have such an attitude this week,” you might say, “I feel like you’re not aware of the attitude you’ve been having.” Or even, “I feel like you’re having a bad attitude.”
Instead of, “You’re being so disrespectful to her,” you might say, “I feel like you’re being disrespectful of other students’ learning time.”
This may seem like a stupid game of wordplay, but it’s not. Adding a simple phrase like “I think,” “I feel,” or “I believe” to the beginning of your statement cuts the edge off your words and is less likely to spark defensiveness in your student. Your words go from sounding like fact to sounding like your emotions and opinion. It softens the blow.


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These rules are adapted with permission from Roger and Becky Tirabassi's premarital workbook for seriously dating and engaged couples - The Seriously Dating or Engaged Workbook. Roger and Becky have also co-authored a book for married couples called Little Changes Big Results for Crazy, Busy Couples. The principles in these books have changed so many areas of our life. We highly recommend them.

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  1. I think your reminders not to use "YOU" statements is a good one for everyone. It sounds like placing blame instead of constructive feedback. Thanks for posting about something we all need to keep in mind.

    1. Reminders...for sure. I find myself needing reminders of stuff all the time!

  2. It is amazing what a word or two can pack! Thank you for that thoughtful advise, I am going to make an effort to not start my sentences with 'You...'

    1. It is so interesting when we become aware of certain words and how they can affect the tone of a conversation. I catch myself using "You" more times than I care to experience. :-)

  3. Great advice! Going to try to remember this in the coming year, both in the classroom and outside of it!

    1. We've found these "rules" are so helpful in all interpersonal situations. Blessings!

  4. Great advice. I have this one little girl who loves to argue with me and gets extremely defensive. This will help me so very much. I have mastered the skill of avoiding arguing with her. Now I hope to use this to master the skill of not putting her on the defensive. Thanks!


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