The Four “I …..  You” statements that can change your life.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your life? It’s not a trick question and can certainly use more than a few moments of thought to come up with an answer you are comfortable with.

My guess is many of you will come up with the following in your top few answers:

Personal relationships are one of the most rewarding aspects in my life.

It is hard to imagine a very rich life without people to:

  • share in our triumphs,
  • console us in defeat,
  • collaborate with us on projects,
  • enjoy our adventures with or
  • just muddle along beside us during our daily grind.

The following four “I ….. You” statements can help add words to feelings that can be difficult to express. They are some of the most powerful and frequently the most difficult to verbalize.

The first is a common courtesy that is often overlooked, maybe even taken for granted, with those we are closest to.

The second is hard to say because it means we are admitting to a flaw on our part.

The third can be difficult because it’s in our nature when we have been hurt to fight back.

The last is tough because it is often only reserved for the most precious of personal relationships.

Here are the four “I ….. You” statements that can change your life.

I Thank you.

Sometimes these words can be trivialized. Expressing sincere gratitude for the act of another is an affirmation that shows appreciation and respect for their actions and deeds.

These simple words have a myriad of applications in everyday life. Being thankful for the acts, presence, kindness, gifts, big and small joys others give us is a major two-way thoroughfare. Those words inspire the giver of the “I thank you!” as much as they encourage the recipient. Try it on something you have been taking for granted and see how it works out for you.

I Am Sorry I Hurt You.

What feels worse than hurting someone? I am sure nearly all of us would agree that we would rather hurt ourselves than hurt someone else. Then why do we do it so often (well, I know I do)? I guess, but I could use help here, it’s because we only know our own experience and as we communicate to others from our experience we are bound to “get things wrong”. Those things we get wrong are what can hurt others. I would argue we almost never intend to hurt anyone – it just happens because we are human and as much as we try, we aren’t able to completely see through someone else’s eyes.

Recognizing you hurt someone, even when you didn’t intend to or even when you don’t understand why, is an important step in accepting others and affirming they are individuals with feelings and thoughts different from yours.

I Am Sorry I Hurt You is subtly, but importantly, different than I Am Sorry. The former takes responsibility for causing the hurt. The latter simply expresses remorse that they were hurt. If someone feels hurt by you, acknowledging you were the source and apologizing is a big step toward healing the hurt and mending the relationship.

I Forgive You

How difficult is it to say “I Forgive You” after somebody has hurt you? In my experience it can be pretty difficult. It just seems easier to place blame and try to figure out why they “wanted” to hurt me. And, shamefully, maybe I even thought of ways to get back at them for “wanting” to hurt me. But when I step back and apply my belief that hurting others is rarely somebody’s objective, I can begin a journey to unravel the misunderstanding that created the hurt.

Is this your experience too? What tips do you have to help unravel the misunderstanding and begin your “I Forgive You” Journey?

I Love You.

Last but, obviously, not least.

Love is a powerful word which is why it should not be used sparingly. I enjoy the way Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®) expressed this. In his teaching he reminded us love is a verb that needs to be actioned but is frequently viewed first as a feeling. “Love the verb is what proceeds love the emotion” he proclaimed. Without love the verb, there cannot be love the emotion. In whatever role you are playing, expressing love the verb to those around you is the highest form of honoring them as individuals. Heck, who doesn’t want to be loved?

For those of you who may be uncomfortable with the term love in your work setting maybe Covey’s teaching can help us. Love the emotion can be reserved for your closest relationships while love the verb fits for everyone we interact with. Love in this way, is the act of putting others first.

Please, don’t hesitate to add your thoughts or even disagree with my Four “I … You”s. I’ll thank you ahead of time… forgive you for pointing out my foibles… apologize if I don’t respond appropriately and… love you for making this discussion a dialogue rather than a monologue.


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