In fair fighting, the rule was always to use “I” statements, as in “I feel this” or “I did this,” as opposed to “You” statements, as in “You always do this,” or “You make me feel this,” (“I feel YOU are an a——” doesn’t count.)
In intercultural communications, in the framework of Geert Hoftstede, it’s Individualism vs. Collectivism: in individualistic societies, individuals look after themselves and immediate family first; in collective societies people are integrated into extended groups, where the benefit to the group comes first.
Over the past few weeks, gearing up for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, (it was 9/25, 13 hours of free, live jazz at 13 venues across Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood), I kept finding myself saying to the objections of others who know me, “I’m just not that nice.”
Volunteers who would spend 12 hours on the “job;” Volunteers bribing their friends to come move boxes on a moment’s notice; a volunteer who dropped everything on his lunch hour to help at the volunteer check-in desk, when he noticed it backing up when he came in to check-in; volunteers coming in to volunteer at 7 am because that was the only time to get respite from caring for an ailing family member later in the day…like I said, I’m just not that nice!
Or is it that I’m just a product of my cultural upbringing. USAmerican society is built on the I. Think of the rugged, “pull yourself up by the bootstraps, free market capitalism if I succeed all will succeed” mentality.
And yet surrounded by hundred’s of volunteers asking “how can I help you” last week, I took a different view, particularly when I tried it myself. It seems there may be something to focusing on the ‘you’ to benefit the “I,” rather than the other way around.
Have you tried to look at things from another’s perspective, looking at how to make things easier for him or her? I found it a huge stress reliever to step out of my own “I” orientation. How did it make you feel? What was the outcome?