Getting What You Want Skillfully

Getting What You Want Skillfully

Some people seem to get what they want effortlessly, while others struggle to simply communicate their wants and needs. Objective effectiveness is about getting what you want out of a situation.

Our Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills offer strategies for interpersonal effectiveness and DEAR MAN is a DBT skill that can be applied to almost any situation. DEAR MAN is helpful when you’re asking for what you want, communicating your feelings, or setting boundaries and expectations.

It is an acronym to remind you how to express your needs, assert yourself, make a request, or resolve a conflict all while maintaining healthy relationships. Here is what it stands for and how it can help:

D – Describe

Use clear and concrete terms to describe what you want. This means sticking to the facts and avoiding your opinions. No bias. No judgments.

E – Express

Express how the situation affects you by clearly stating your feelings and opinions. Say why you want what you want. Stick to “I” statements.

A – Assert

Assert yourself by directly asking for what you want. State what it is you want to see or by stating “no” clearly.

R – Reinforce

Reinforce or reward the person if they respond well to you. Help the person feel good ahead of time for doing or accepting what you want. This could be simply saying “thank you” or smiling.

M – Stay Mindful

Don’t forget the goal of the interaction. It’s easy to get distracted, off topic, or even pass judgement of the person you’re speaking to. Be mindful of how your feelings might impact communication.

A – Appear Confident

Appear confident by paying attention to your tone and body language. Make good eye contact.

N – Negotiate

Be willing to give to get. Try to think of possible compromises and negotiate so both of you can have your needs met. Be open to other ideas and suggestions.

While maintaining open communication and asserting your own needs is vital to any healthy relationship, using the DEAR MAN skill does not always mean you’re guaranteed to get what you want. Even the most skillful communicators don’t always get what they want.

Learning to stand up for ourselves while still respecting the limits of other people can take a lot of practice as well as accepting the answer “no” from someone you really care about.

Authored by: Ilana Sancha, LMSW