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February Challenge: Do Better at Getting What You Want

By Courtney Johnson, LMSW, CAADC

Conflict is an inevitable force in life. Learning how to approach conflict effectively is crucial in navigating all kinds of relationships. This month is the perfect time to sharpen our communication skills to help improve and maintain our relationships with the ones we love most. In this month’s challenge, we will look at DEAR MAN, a skill effective in communicating our needs--helping us adequately address disagreements without causing hurt feelings or beating around the bush. DEAR MAN allows us to be assertive and can improve our relationships in these seven easy steps.


Seven Steps to Manage Conflict Effectively

Step 1: Describe the situation. When discussing issues with a colleague, friend or significant other, describe the situation using only FACTS. Be mindful of judgments and jumping to conclusions without all of the information.

Example 1: The laundry pile is getting bigger and I have been working more hours.

Step 2: Express how the situation made you feel and how the situation may have impacted you personally. Own your feelings using an I statement to prevent the person from feeling blamed or attacked.

Example 2: I feel overwhelmed with everything at work and home

Step 3: Assert exactly what you are needing from the person. Have this statement be a clear and achievable objective so that you are both on the same page and nothing is left to be interpreted.

Example 3: Could you take on this task for me until things are more settled at work?

Step 4: Reinforce the other person. Validate their perspective or reward them for responding positively.

Example 4: If you take on the laundry my schedule will free up and we will have more time to watch those movies you have been wanting to see.

Step 5: Stay Mindful. Do not lose sight of your goals. Be a broken record if you have to and avoid any insults thrown your way. Be mindful of the other person’s feelings as well and where they are coming from.

Step 6: Appear Confident. Stand up straight, look the person in the eye, and speak in a calm manner. Do not apologize unnecessarily.

Step 7: Be ready to negotiate. Meet the person in the middle if they are not willing to see your side of things. Sometimes to get a little, you have to give a little.

Example 7: I can do the laundry on weekends to help with the work load.

An easy way to remember the above steps is the first letter in each step spells out DEAR MAN. Being assertive is a skill like any other and practice makes perfect. Write out a script and practice in front of the mirror or with a friend. These steps will help your ability to handle any sticky issue that come your way.

Do better at getting what you want this month by using DEAR MAN and be the first one to tell us how you took the challenge on Facebook or Twitter #DBTChallenge. We want to hear from you!

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Courtney Johnson is a licensed social clinical social worker and a certified advanced addictions counselor. She has been trained in CBT, DBT, and specializes in treating borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Her mission is to offer a compassionate, judgment-free space to help others become the best version of themselves. Her experience as a counselor has allowed her to understand the resiliency and strength within all people to overcome life’s obstacles. Learn more about Courtney here!

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