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How to Get Your Needs Met Using DEAR MAN

We all have needs to be met in this life. However, our needs are not necessarily the priority of others. In fact, there are times when our needs directly conflict with the needs of important people in our lives. Dialectical Behavior Therapy teaches us about a ‘script’ that we can use to increase the effectiveness of said conversations, and its acronym is called DEAR MAN. 

D – ‘Describe the details of the situation’, and it’s most useful to do so using factual and specific terms. We want to be opinion and judgment free in our D. 

E – ‘Express your thoughts and feelings’, and I always like to use emotion words here. I find that leaving out the word ‘you’ in this section is helpful. 

A – ‘Assert yourself clearly’. This is the part where you share your objective, and it’s crucial that what you say is specific, can occur in the near future, and, if possible, is measurable. 

R – ‘Reward the other person by highlighting the benefits of meeting your request’. This is where you point out the positive consequences of doing what you want that the other person will experience. 

An example of using this script is as follows: D-Last night I was told that you would be home by 10pm; you arrived home at 1am. E-I feel scared when I don’t know where you are, as I tend to assume you’ve been hurt. A-I would like you to please text me if you are going to be more than an hour later than anticipated. R-I won’t text you repeatedly when you’re out when I know you’re safe. 

The MAN part of this skill tells us how to execute this script. 

M – ‘Mindfully focus on your goals’. Don’t be driven off course by other issues.

A – ‘Appear confident’, even if you are shaking in your boots.

N – ‘Negotiate if needed’. Sometimes we need to give to get. 

Using DEAR MAN cannot get us everything we want of course, but it’s so helpful to have an outline to help!

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