Using I-statements to transform conflict situations

“Did you forget to put your rubbish in the wheelie bin?! Foxes got to it, and it’s all over the communal area!”

Your dinner party yesterday kept me awake again! Keep your noise down!”

Sounds familiar? Neighbour disagreements can be frustrating, and when we have strong feelings in a conflict, we often use You-statements. They tend to sound accusatory, and when a person feels they are being blamed, they often respond with defensiveness - which leads to conflict escalation. I-statements allow you to express your feelings in a constructive way, opening the door for a more open discussion and possibly even a solution. They will help you talk things through while keeping the tensions low.


To use I-statements, you need to identify the underlying message and reframe the blaming You-statement into a more neutral I-statement. Try and clearly state what the problem is, how it has affected you, and what you would like to do about it. Use this 4-step formula:

1) Name (of the person you are speaking to).

2) I feel... when I see/hear… (name your feeling, e.g. angry, sad, hurt etc; and explain what words, actions or behaviours led you to feeling that way. Try and avoid using the word “you”).

3) Because... (explain the consequences of those words/actions/behaviour)

4) I'd like/Can we... (offer a possible solution)


Classic blaming You-statements and rephrased I-statements:

Did you forget to put your rubbish in the wheelie bin again?! Foxes got to it, and it’s all over the communal area!

“John, I feel frustrated when I see rubbish sacks left near your front door because foxes get into them at night and spread rubbish all over the communal area. I’d like to talk about how we could do something about the rubbish that would work for us both.”


“Your dinner party yesterday kept me awake again! Keep your noise down!”

“Jane, I feel stressed when I hear a loud dinner party after 11pm, because the noise keeps me awake and makes me tired for work. Can we please make an arrangement that will work for us both?”


This #ASBAwarenessWeek, WMS has partnered with Wandsworth Council to help tackle anti-social behaviour in the community. Each day we'll be posting conflict resolution techniques to help nip ASB-related conflicts in the bud:
Monday, July 19 – Navigating tough conversations
Tuesday, July 20 – Top 5 conflict styles and resolution strategies
Wednesday, July 21 – Using I-statements to transform conflict situations
Thursday, July 21 – How to become an Active Listener
Friday, July 22 – Default responses to conflict and how to overcome them

If you are entrenched in a conflict with your neighbour, you can get free help. At Wandsworth Mediation Service (WMS), we offer free community mediation to all Wandsworth residents. Two trained mediators will facilitate the conversation, help you listen to each other’s point of view and assist you in developing mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation is free, completely confidential and highly effective - most cases settle after the first meeting. Contact us for more information.

Grateful thanks to Sharon Crooks, Nick Adlington and Lizzie Haynes.