Get Someone to Do What You Want! DBT Technique: DEAR MAN

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a type of therapy that was created to help those of us who struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

There are three pillars to DBT: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Emotional Regulation. Today we are going to be talking about Interpersonal Effectiveness and using the DBT tool DEAR MAN. They describe DEAR MAN as the way to get people to do what you want. This doesn’t mean that we can get people to do whatever it is we want, but it does help us communicate more clearly, stand up for ourselves and ask for what it is we need and want. Let’s get into these techniques:

Describe. Describe the situation and stick to the facts. This means that we don’t talk about how we feel or what we think may have happened, we are only describing it factually.

Express. This is when we use “I” statements in order to communicate what it is we are feeling and thinking. This keeps us from blaming the other person, which allows them to hear us out without shutting down. I find this to be the most effective at getting our point across and giving them a chance to let you know what’s going on with them.

Assert. This is usually the hardest for my clients. Just to be clear, assert doesn’t mean be aggressive, it just means that we are going to ask for what we want. People can’t read our minds or know what it is we are thinking or feeling. Therefore, we are wholly responsible for letting them know what we need and what we are feeling. That’s on us.

Reinforce. I know this term sounds a bit odd, and possibly something only parents do to their children, but trust me, we reinforce or reward people all the time. If a friend does something nice for us or goes out of their way, we may buy them dinner, or offer to help them move. Without realizing it, we do reward each other for our behavior all the time.

Mindful. To keep your focus on what you want and avoid distractions. This means that we may have to continue asking for what we want, and ignore any attacks. If they try and fight back, just continue asserting yourself and asking for what it is you want. That way we don’t get caught up in a fight that goes no where and leaves both of us unhappy.

Appear. Appear confident! This is another hard thing for my clients to do. This is something we can actually practice ahead of time. Practice making eye contact, speaking loudly and clearly. Stand up tall! Do whatever you need to do to appear confident, because it can really effect that way people interact with us.

Negotiate. Sometimes we have to give up some things in order to get what it is we want. Communicating is key because we need to hear them out as well so that we know what it is they want. Maybe there are other factors we didn’t know about, maybe they haven’t told us everything. Either way, we need to hear their side too and see if we can come to an agreement and resolution.

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I’m Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos – Depression, Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Self-Harm and more! Mental health shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it. You’re worth the fight!
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Kati Morton