Improving Communication

Understand how to use the DEARMAN-approach

Effective communication is a cornerstone of healthy relationships, personal growth, and achieving our goals. However, sometimes we find it challenging to express our needs and desires clearly. That's where Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) steps in with its DEARMAN approach, a powerful tool for improving communication and achieving better outcomes in various situations. In this blog post, we'll explore what DEARMAN stands for and how it can help you master effective communication.

Understanding DEARMAN:

DEARMAN is an acronym that breaks down the key components of effective communication in DBT. Each letter represents a crucial element to consider when expressing your needs, setting boundaries, or resolving conflicts:

  • Describe: Begin by objectively describing the situation. Stick to the facts and avoid emotional language or judgments. This sets the stage for a clear understanding of the issue.
  • Express: Express your feelings and thoughts about the situation. Use "I" statements to convey your emotions, needs, and desires. For example, "I feel overwhelmed when..."
  • Assert: Assert yourself by making clear, specific requests or stating your boundaries. Be direct and concise in communicating what you need or want.
  • Reinforce: Reinforce your position by explaining the benefits or consequences of meeting your request or respecting your boundaries. Highlight how it's a win-win situation for both parties.
  • Mindful: Stay mindful and focused on your goal during the conversation. Keep your emotions in check, and avoid getting sidetracked by irrelevant issues or arguments.
  • Appear confident: Confidence plays a vital role in effective communication. Maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and use a confident tone of voice to convey your message.
  • Negotiate: Be open to negotiation and finding a middle ground if necessary. Compromise can lead to more satisfying outcomes for everyone involved.

Practical Applications of DEARMAN:

Let's explore some real-life scenarios where DEARMAN can be applied effectively:

  • Workplace: Use DEARMAN to discuss workload concerns with your supervisor. Describe the workload, express your feelings of overwhelm, assert your need for support, reinforce how it benefits the team, stay mindful of your goal (a more manageable workload), appear confident, and be open to negotiation.
  • Relationships: Apply DEARMAN to have an open conversation with your partner about your need for more quality time together. Describe the current situation, express your feelings of loneliness, assert your desire for more quality time, reinforce how it strengthens your relationship, stay mindful of your goal (strengthening your bond), appear confident, and be open to negotiating a schedule.
  • Family: Use DEARMAN to set boundaries with a family member who frequently invades your personal space. Describe the invasions, express your discomfort, assert your need for personal space, reinforce how it leads to a healthier relationship, stay mindful of your goal (maintaining boundaries), appear confident, and be open to finding a compromise.

In sum, the DEARMAN approach from DBT offers a structured and effective way to communicate your needs, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts. By following the steps of DEARMAN, you can navigate various situations with confidence, assertiveness, and mindfulness, leading to better outcomes and healthier relationships. Remember, effective communication is a skill that can be honed and applied to various aspects of your life, ultimately improving your overall well-being. Want a tool that can help you integrate this approach into your life, seamlessly? Check out our improve communication toolkit in our shop!