Start with WE
You know the adage “start sentences with I statements” as a way to invoke responsibility and openness in our conversations? It's a great guideline that helps a lot, as we all know what starting with ‘you’ statements turns into. You always leave the dirty dishes for me, you never loved me the way I needed, etc.
In these times of endemic anxiety, extreme disconnection and hyper-individualism, I suggest it's time for an additional adage: “start with we statements". In this way, we are reminded that we are doing life together, we are all connected, our destinies are mutually intertwined (thank you MLK) and we talk keeps us in the moment.
Instead of “you never listen to me” (obvious dead-ender)
Instead of “I need you to listen to me when I'm talking to you (great, but still focused on individuals negotiating individual needs)
Let’s try out ‘how are we doing listening to each other?’ or ‘In what ways can we both improve how we hear one another?’ or ‘Can we both support each other to listen with new ears?’’ or 'Lets play a listening game together'!
This is a time of cultural shifts, including a recognition that we need to live more relationally to flourish. I vote that WE try talking in ways that support US. In your next conversation with a loved one, give starting with we a try. Let me know what you discover.