D.E.A.R. M.A.N.: How to Make a Request Without Dishonoring your Self-Respect
Imagine you are about to give a speech in front of a classroom for the first time, and the room is silent just before you are about to speak. In that moment, you realize that the floor is yours and all eyes are on you with the teacher reading with their pen to start grading as soon as you utter your first word. You have probably been in this moment before during your time in school, or you are currently in school, and you are prepping for this very speech that is about to occur very soon. Speeches can create an adrenaline rush in us – whether this rush is enough to help us push our way over the finish line after presenting your closing line, or if it boils over too much and we are not able to speak a single word. Whenever we are faced with the task of communicating with someone, it can stir up the same level of anxiety in us. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy teaches the skill Interpersonal Effectiveness, which in short, teaches us how to keep and improve relationships in our lives, how to keep and improve our self-respect, and how to obtain a personal goal. One crucial part of Interpersonal Effectiveness is the use of D.E.A.R. M.A.N., which teaches us how to communicate to a person or people in a way that maintains our self-respect. This skill is formatted for either serious conversations or assisting us in asking another person for a small favor. Here is how the acronym is broken down:
*The first part of the acronym is meant to help format the person’s request
You want to describe the situation without straying away from the facts. (Example: “You told me that you would call me as soon as you got to your friend’s house”).
You want to be open in expressing your thoughts and emotions about the situation. You want to speak only on your behalf – you cannot assume how the person is thinking or feeling. HINT: Starting the sentence with ‘I want’ or ‘I don’t want’ instead of saying ‘You should’ or ‘You should not’ helps eliminate the chances of the other person becoming defensive. (Example: “I start to worry about you and think the worst has happened to you when you do not call me”).
You want to be assertive in asking for what you want and saying NO if needed. Remember, the person or people cannot read your minds. (Example: “I would greatly appreciate it if you would call me when you arrive to your friend’s house”).
Reinforce, or reward’ the person or people by describing the positive affects the thing you are requesting will have on you and the relationship. HINT: If needed, ask clarifying questions, and describe any consequences that may come from your request not being honored. (Example: “I would be so relieved if you do this for me”).
*The second part of the acronym is meant for the person presenting their point to keep in mind as they convey the seriousness of their request
You want to keep your focus on your goals. Be mindful of the environment you are in as you discuss your request – make sure it is not an area that is too distracting so that you stay on topic. It is OKAY to sound like a broken record! If the other person or people try to change the subject, start to get defensive, or their emotions become heightened, do not respond to these attacks or distractions. Keep stating your request. (Example: “I would appreciate a phone call ”).
You want to appear confident when presenting your request. Try to avoid making eye contact with just the ground. Be mindful of your tone of voice and try to avoid mumbling or saying the famous line ‘I’m not sure’.
Depending on the request that you are trying to receive, sometimes it is best to GIVE TO GET. Offer up any other solutions to the request. Think of things that may work in the situation. (Example: “What if you texted me instead of called me? I would be okay with that”) HINT: Ask what the other person or people have a solution to the problem. (Example: “What do you think should happen? I don’t want to keep worrying about you or bugging you about this”).
Blog post written by Tanya Schmitz, therapist intern at Green Door Therapy.