Stating Your Position
You can use a statement of your position in order to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs regarding an issue. The situation maybe a small one, such as which movie to see with others, or a big one, such as explain to others why you want to change your career. In either case, you need to articulate your position clearly and completely in order to avoid misunderstandings.
There are four parts to a good statement of your position:
- Your understanding of the situation
- Your feelings regarding the situation
- Your needs regarding the situation
- An incentive to encourage others to cooperate
Your understanding of the situation is it definition of the problem. This part is necessary for focusing the discussion. It is your chance to State your beliefs regarding the problem situation. Non-judgemental, non inflammatory, objective language will be most effective. For example: “We need to make a decision about what we want to see at the movies tonight. I know you really like action films, but we’ve seen one the last three times we’ve gone out. We could use some variety!”
The second part, expressing your feelings regarding the situation, gives others a sense of how important the problem is to you. Try not to mix up an opinion for a feeling here. An example of a feeling is, “I dislike action films!” Once they are stated, your feelings play a significant role in helping you get what you need, especially when your opinion is drastically different from the others. Others may be able to relate to your feelings regarding an issue, even when he or she totally disagrees with your opinion. When you express your feelings, the problem becomes less of a competition. Expressing your feelings can make a mutual compromise more possible.
The third part, expression of your needs, is most effectively stated in a few simple sentences. State your wishes and needs clearly. It is not appropriate to expect others to read your mind even if you have a childlike desire to be given what you want without having to ask for it. Be specific about what you need. Ask others to change Behavior, not attitudes. For example, “I would really like to go to a romantic comedy tonight.”
The fourth part of a statement of your position is to encourage the others cooperation. Let others know how he or she will benefit by cooperating with you: ” wWe’ll both be more interesting and well-rounded” or “I’ll be more enthusiastic about going out on Saturday night.” If the other person is very resistant, incentives may not work. For this situation you may need to stay the negative consequences for failure to cooperate. As you describe negative consequences, do not make threats such as this: “If we don’t go to a romantic comedy, I’m going to make your life miserable.” This will only bring out defensiveness and hostility. State how you will take care of yourself if your needs are not accommodated: “I’ll have to invite another friend to go see the romantic comedy instead of you.”
sharing with others your thoughts, feelings, and needs in a statement of your position increases the possibility that the message you want to send will be the message others receive. It is important that the statement of your position does not blame or use destructive language. Otherwise others are likely to become defensive, tune out what you are saying, counter-attack, or withdraw. Your position should be described specifically and objectively without negative judgments. By using I messages as opposed to you messages, you own your thoughts, feelings, and needs.
A statement of your position is difficult for others to blow off. Your statement may be new to others however, and they may become momentarily silent. Don’t let this deter you. After sometime you may want to say, “I’d like to hear some feedback on what you heard me saying.” Then remain silent and wait for a response.