- "I" messages reveal feelings without making demands, while "You" messages obscure feelings and point fingers of blame.
"I feel the good work I've been doing isn't noticed."
"You always notice the work Bill does instead of mine."
- "I" messages allow the other person to see the effect of his behavior, without exerting pressure, while "You" messages demand action and threaten the relationship.
"I have an idea that if my work was recognized more, I'd stand a better chance of being promoted."
"If you keep favoring Bill and ignoring my work, you'll regret it..."
- "I" messages encourage the other person to grow and trust him to handle the situation with responsible behavior, while "You" messages diminish trust and growth. Although such "You" messages might demand change and improvement, the message implies that growth will not happen without the threat or demand being there.
"Without an honest evaluation of my work, I don't know how to improve what I'm doing and get a promotion."
"You're standing in the way of my promotion and advancement on my job because you won't give my work an honest evaluation."
- "I" messages clearly separate the responsibilities in the conflict by defining the personal probblems and feelings raised by the other's actions, but without making the other responsible for those feelings. "You" messages confuse responsibilities by leaving little or no room for the other to explain his position. "You" messages also prejudge the other person and make him responsible for your feelings.
"I feel as if my work isn't appreciated."
"You don't care whether I do good work or not."
Source: James G.T. Fairfield, When You Don't Agree (this has been slightly modified).