Who thinks, feels and does? Me, you or someone?

Who thinks, feels and does? Me, you or someone?
In Communicology*, we see I/Thou as an important basic communication key to look at in the context of change management. So what does an I/Thou (We/Ne) ‘sorting’ mean?

Understanding me and you is to realize that what I think, feel and think is for me. What you think, feel and believe is yours. I respect my own and your limits. I accept your opinions and differences, and you accept mine. I am I and you are You.

To give some examples of I/Thou (We/Ne) violations.

– “I’ll make you something to eat, you need to eat now.”
– “I’m not hungry!”
– “Of course you are, you haven’t eaten since breakfast.”

– “We in management have decided that you should move the Monday meeting to Friday. It will be more efficient.”
– “But then many people are tired after a full working week, so we prefer Monday meetings.”
– “We in management always work best at the Friday meetings. So you will too.”

Violations of language that diminish us as individuals or groups can create uncomfortable conditions that are not always easy to pinpoint. It is easy to let your own truths become the truth for others, without finding out what their wishes are. For example are you listening or trying to persuade? Do you just keep going or do you stop and find out what signals you are getting from your environment, but also your body?

The amount of increased sick leave due to fatigue symptoms would be interesting to study from an I/Thou perspective. I know people who have hit the wall not just once, but several times. Perhaps because they are met with treatment of their symptoms, but not the cause of the symptoms. Does this person ever stop and think about what is best for them? Maybe not and then the behavior repeats itself again. Intention and the check of its frameworks and presuppositions could be an absence in the rehabilitation (read more about intentions, presuppositions, frameworks and the whole in the indicated posts).

How can imbalances in I/Thou sorting manifest themselves?
Below are some different situations where an imbalance in the I/Thou sorting can occur. Please read and reflect on each point yourself. Do you recognize yourself? Can you also identify that this applies to others in your life, both in the workplace and in your personal life? Then try following the tips at the end of the post and see if it makes sense to you.

Yes and no signals
Do you do things for yourself or for someone else? Do you say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’? When you say one thing and mean another, you are not respecting your own boundaries. The same goes the other way around. If a person says “no”, we have no right to interpret it as a “yes” anyway, based on our own values. It creates an imbalance in us. Next time you say yes to going out (when you really wanted to say no and have a nice evening at home), think about why you said yes. Is your opinion not good enough? Do you take responsibility for someone else and answer what you think they want to hear in order not to be disappointed? And the same if you say “no” a lot but mean “yes”. Are you afraid of something that makes you say ‘no’ a lot when you really want to say ‘yes’? Think and reflect on your answers when they don’t feel balanced between the outside and the inside.

Instead, what is the feeling when you answer exactly what you think and want?

Unclear language
How do you communicate with yourself and others? Will sentences like:
You get happy” and “when you read the mail…” – who is happy and who reads the mail?” Instead of “I am happy.” “When Sofia reads the email…”

Many people in the company like the proposal” – Who are “many”? Specify We in the admin group think…
“Some people want a shorter Monday meeting” – Who are “some people”? Specify as proposed above.

Do you take indirect responsibility for others?
I once had a boss who told me this;
– “Rebecca, I know what you want to do with your career going forward. I know what you want.” (Quite an overstep. I had no idea and hadn’t mentioned it either).

Another example is:
– “I take it upon myself to write up the minutes of the meeting because the rest of you are so busy and have no time.”

Or those of us who have had a grandparent who just wants to be well and stubbornly insists that we need all the things we just said no to, for the fifth time.
– “Now take another cake. You need that to get some meat on your bones.”

External understanding
Do you express yourself with sentences like;
He should have understood!”,But she knows I need her help now, right?,You can see I’m stressed, right?

When we expect others to understand us. Yes, if only we could be mind readers sometimes. This may be possible in the future, until then we have to take our own responsibility to communicate what we think and want to others we wish to interact with.

Small or big I
Are you the kind of person who usually sits quietly even though you have knowledge that would add something to the company/group of friends? Or do you enjoy being the center of attention all the time, and/or want to convince those around you to agree with you?

Pushing the boundaries
If you ignore your body’s signals and listen to the “go, go, go” of the knob, you might break down sooner or later. Mentally or physically. When we push our boundaries too far, and stop listening to the signals we get from our bodies, we start tapping into resources we don’t have.

Another suggestion to push the limit in the wrong direction would be to choose not to exercise. Not taking care of yourself. To do nothing.

With small changes
changes in how we choose to communicate with ourselves and others can make big differences. It can be a relief to understand what it is that has been nagging at you, but you have not been able to put your finger on it. It can also lead to painful feelings (the realization that I let someone else control my life. Form my truths, even though they are not really my truths), become an energy boost, many states can be created. Either way, it contributes to your personal leadership development.

My opinion is that we would all benefit from a bit more I’m-You (We/Ne) sorting.

Does I/Thou (We/Ne) mean that I stop caring about others?
It is not about stopping caring for others. I would rather say that it is about taking responsibility for what I need, so that I can care for others in the best possible way without losing my own capacity.

If you have a friend who feels really bad about an event. Won’t it help if you “take on” that friend’s feelings and also feel completely depressed. Because you can’t control how they will feel, you may suddenly feel bad for someone else whose feelings you can’t control. It’s a bit backwards. Instead, be empathetic towards your loved ones, take the best care of yourself (ask yourself what you need to feel good), and ask your friend what they need from you to be the best support.

In my meeting with many people I have coached in one way or another, whether it was PT training, dance, life coaching or in companies, the imbalance between I / You is common. So how can you find balance in your I/Thou sorting? Try some of the tips below. And get in touch if you discover something interesting, exciting, challenging or just want to share your thoughts. You can reach me at [email protected]

– Listen for “man” and try replacing it with “I”. (“Man” is getting tired now à I am tired now.) Also be sensitive to whether others around you that you are talking to use “man”, and perhaps ask them who they mean?

– When you want to present a proposal for change and why. Remember to keep track of “I” and “you”, to avoid bad conditions for the recipients of the information.

I hope this post has given a little hint and understanding of what I/you (We/Ne) sorting is. Hopefully, you will notice some things yourself and have the courage to try them out to see what the difference is. Workplace as in the TV couch. Let us know if anything seems unclear!

Take care,

* Communicology is an interdisciplinary meta-discipline. It is an area of expertise in change and development processes.

Definitions of Communicology
– The study of what is common in change and development processes.

– Studies of the structure and dynamics of communication and change when all experience and behavior is chosen, defined, described and understood as communication.

Want to know more? Contact me at [email protected] or go to one of these pages to find out more and find courses. Scandinavian Institute of Communicology or Communicology Center Hammarbysjöstad



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