Everything We Say
Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning and Martha Davis--the authors of Messages, a book on communication which I recommend to anyone who wants to improve any aspect of how they communicate--assert that everything we say falls into one of four main categories:
Facts--anything we can observe without judgment: "We texted that we would meet at 7pm. It's now 8pm. You haven't replied to my texts, and you are not here."
Opinions (and Beliefs/Values/Judgments/Perceptions): "It makes me think you are disrespecting me."
Feelings: "I'm really frustrated/pissed off/sad, etc."
Wants/Needs (Yours and Theirs): "Next time you are late, please communicate something, somehow to me. Is that ok with you?"
We spend too much time in judgment, and not enough time looking at the facts, expressing our feelings, wants and needs.
Next time you are in conflict with someone important to you, see if you can break down what's going on in terms of the above categories. My clients have told me that even just the act of breaking down conflicts into the above categories has the effect of easing the stress of a moment. Let me know if you have any questions--