Developed by PREP, the XYZ Statement is a simple formula that will have a powerful effect on your relationships. It’s a great way to ask for what you want and to encourage others to change because it includes information that can be implemented.
To communicate effectively, just follow this guideline the next time you want to express appreciation or share a concern:
When you did X,
Describe the specific behavior. What was the one thing he/she did?
(This implies change can happen.)
In situation Y,
Describe the specific situation or circumstances.
(It’s not everything that is a problem.)
I felt Z.
Tell how you felt or were affected.
(Own your reaction.)
Good Examples of XYZ Statements
When you made dinner (X) today (Y), I felt really special (Z).
When you ignored me (X) last night (Y), I felt hurt and disappointed (Z).
Thanks for babysitting the kids (XY). I feel so pampered (Z).
I felt so humiliated (Z) when you yelled at me (X) in front of your parents (Y).
When you showed up 15 minutes late (X) for our appointment with the imam (Y), I was very embarrassed (Z).
Bad Examples of XYZ Statements
When you leave your dishes in the sink, I feel like you are a slob.
Slob is not a feeling; it’s name-calling. Instead of addressing the behavior that you dislike, you’re basically implying that it is part of their character and that they can’t change.
Alternative: It bothers me when you leave your dishes in the sink without washing them.
You never listen to me when I talk. You’re so inconsiderate.
Don’t over generalize and disregard the past. Using phrases such as “you always” or “you never” implies that the issue is so big that it can never change.
Alternative: When you watch TV while I’m talking, I don’t feel heard or understood.
When we went out to dinner today, I know you didn’t want to go anyways.
Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking or intending. You fuel your own anger when you assume negative motives.
Alternative: When you hesitated, I wasn’t so sure that you wanted to go.
In the bad examples above, the focus is placed on others instead of on ourselves, making it more likely that we will receive an angry and defensive reaction. Let’s take responsibility and focus on ourselves first.
A Better Way
Remember your earlier statements? Change them now to XYZ Statements. Do you see a difference between your XYZ statements and the earlier ones? Is it easier to communicate? Will the reactions be different?
XYZ statements are more specific, and result in greater awareness about needs, wants, and desires. They emphasize our experiences and feelings.
Most of us don’t like hearing something negative about ourselves, but XYZ Statements make it easier to raise concerns in a gentle, respectful, and honest way.
When we know how certain behaviors affect others, we are more motivated to change and more likely to accumulate positives than negatives!