There are times in everyone’s life where they need to share their concerns or assert a boundary. You don’t want to be submissive, and you don’t want to be aggressive. Finding that perfect balance to achieve effective assertiveness can be difficult. Thankfully, using the “DEAR MAN” method can help you effectively communicate your concerns with friends, family, and coworkers.
Describe the Situation
Stick to the objective facts and try to be as clear and detailed as possible. This is not the time to be wishy-washy or to toss in blaming statements. For example, you might say, “This is the third time you’ve forgotten your wallet when we’ve gone out to lunch together.”
Express Your Feelings
Explain how the situation affects you or how you feel about the situation. Don’t leave it up to the person to guess. For example, you might say, “I really love hanging out with you, but sometimes I feel like I’m being taken advantage of.”
Clearly ask for what you want or need. It may be tempting to beat around the bush, but this is not the time to be unclear. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. When asserting yourself, try to avoid telling the person what they must or should do. For example, you might say, “I won’t keep hanging out with you if you expect me to always pay.”
Reinforce Positive Responses
If the person responds kindly and reasonably, reinforce their positive reply by thanking them. Also, sometimes it helps to let people know ahead of time the positive effects of getting what you want or need; this helps the person know what positive outcome they’ll get for respecting your wishes. For example, you might say, “I’ll hang out with you more often if you start paying for your own lunches. And I’ll be a lot happier when we hang out!”
Resist getting swept away by negative judgments and heightened emotions. Try to stay present-focused. Keep your focus on the topic at hand and don’t get distracted by the past or future. The person may try to bring in other problems (e.g., “Well, you always make me work around your schedule when we hang out”). Maintain your position and keep to your present concerns.
Two techniques that can be helpful are being a broken record and ignoring. When you’re a broken record, keep asking for what you need, saying no, or expressing your opinion. There’s no need to come up with new ways to say it each time; you can stick to your exact script if you need to. Be sure to stay calm when repeatedly asserting yourself.
Use ignoring if the other person begins attacking you or trying to change the subject. Don’t let their poor behavior divert you from making your point and setting your boundary. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore the attacks or other topic; you can handle them at another time.
It can be nerve wracking to try to assert yourself or put in place a new boundary. Try to use a confident tone of voice and have confident body language (e.g., body posture, eye contact) as you’re speaking. By being assertive and poised, people are more likely to take you seriously.
Negotiate When Necessary
In the perfect world, you would always get exactly what you want. Unfortunately, it won’t always work out that way. Sometimes the other person can’t give you exactly what you want. In those situations, it can be helpful to reduce your request or offer alternative solutions to the problem. Sometimes it’s effective to ask the other person how they might solve the problem. For example, you might ask, “What do you think we can do to resolve this issue?”
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Need help effectively communication and improving your relationships with others? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee for a free 20 minute consultation to see how she can help.