DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness “DEARMAN” Skill

This week in my DBT Skills Group we looked at the DEARMAN skill in the Interpersonal Effectiveness module.

The IPE skills can be split into three subcategories which we looked at last week:
1) Objectives effectiveness
2) Relationship effectiveness and
3) Self-respect effectiveness.

When the goal is to get our objectives met, as outlined in the image below, the DEARMAN skill is the skill to use:

DEARMAN is split into two parts. The DEAR part describes what we do to try and get an objective met, and the MAN part describes how we do it.

When you are trying to get something you want or need from another person, because it involves somebody else – and because ultimately we cannot control other people – there is unfortunately no guarantee that the request will be successful. However, following this guideline will certainly maximise the chances. Furthermore, it will hopefully maintain the relationship as well as your self-respect as a natural consequence as well.

  • Describe – describe the situation exactly as it is; without judgement, blame or using emotive words (yet!). Just outline the facts in an objective and hence indisputable manner.
  • Express – express the way you feel about the facts of the situation. What emotions are you noticing have arisen? Be careful not to attach blame – avoid statement like “When you do X, you make me feel Y” and replace them with “When you do X, I feel/notice/experience Y”.
  • Assert – assert what you want or need with reference to the situation. Be clear what it is you are asking for, or what you are standing up against. Avoid words such as “should” and “must” and replace them with statements such as “Could you please…” or “What I need from you is…”
  • Reinforce – ‘reward’ the person ahead of time by letting them know how the request will benefit them/ the relationship. What would the positive outcome of getting your needs met be for them? Alternatively, what negative consequences could occur if your needs remain unmet?
    E.g “I would be so relieved and grateful to you, and a lot more pleasurable to be around if…”
  • Mindfully – stay focused on the objective, try not to sway from the goal of the conversation and bring the attention back if needs be. Ignore attacks from the other person to avoid getting into an argument (this is not easy!). Repeat yourself if necessary as if you are a broken record. At the same time, be aware of times when you may simply need to walk away if the person really is blocking you from being effective.
  • Appear confident – use a confident and competent manner including voice, facial expression and posture. Plan what you need to say ahead of time and speak clearly. Don’t apologise unnecessarily – if you do you will be sending yourself and the other person the message that you are undeserving of the request you are stating. Make sure you maintain eye contact, and try to sound as if you believe in what you are saying (even if you do not!).
  • Negotiate – be willing to compromise or reduce your request. If the other person deems your request unreasonable, ask them for their opinion on any alternative solutions. Query if there is something you can do to make them feel more inclined to give you what you want/ need.
    Tip: If you start out big, you may end up where you want to be, as in the Door-In-The-Face technique (see cartoon strip below)!

For a real life example of a DEARMAN, refer to this post here.


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