Hope Skills: DEAR MAN

Dear Man is an acronym that helps to give one steps for communicating what they want and need in an affective and non-offensive way. 

It helps to teach people to:

  • Communicate what you believe your legitimate right is
  • Communicate, without demanding, what you want another to do
  • Refusing an unwanted or unreasonable request
  • Resolving an interpersonal conflict
  • Getting your opinion or point of view taken seriously

With this skill, it’s important to first ask yourself, “what specific results or changes do I want from this interaction?” and “what do I reasonably have to do to get the results I desire?”

The actual acronym goes like this:
Describe
Express
Assert
Reinforce
Mindfulness
Appear confident
Negotiate

Using this skill as a guideline is super helpful if you are in a position where you need to ask something of someone that you are hesitant about or if you have to tell someone something that you predict could hurt their feelings. 

IN MY RECOVERY
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At Remuda, DEAR MAN was a main aspect of Family Week, when my and the families of two other women came in for family therapy. We used DEAR MAN to talk to our parents/siblings about things that we need from them, ways they have hurt us, and ways that we were sorry for things we had done to them. I thought it was utterly ridiculous and that I would never need to use a guide to talk to my parents. However, as I watched the other families go through their turns, I knew that it would be necessary for me. 

The sheet in our Family Week binder for DEAR MAN: 

ImageUsing DEAR MAN really helped me to be able to effectively communicate with my parents what I needed from them and everything else that I had to say.  It made me certain that I was going about that process in the most unoffensive way possible. That was extremely important for me because a big issue of mine is worrying about making everyone happy. I worry that I’m going to upset someone with something I say and they will not be able to forgive me. With my DEAR MAN sheet, I didn’t have to worry that if someone was upset with what I had to say that it was because I could have said it better.

 

IN REAL LIFE
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I’m not going to pretend that I use DEAR MAN in real life; it’s not practical to be carrying around a cheat-sheet for how to talk to people and communicate effectively. However, that is not saying that I don’t carry with me in my back pocket the basic gist of the skill. This skill has taught me to make sure that I make my opinions be known. Sometimes, when I use these skills, I feel as though I’m coming off as harsh. I may sometimes, but I know that sometimes the truth hurts, but being truthful and upfront is always better in the long run in my eyes. For example, one of the ways that Javier and I have been able to make it 9 months and 6 days (no one’s counting, though) without a fight is that we are both able to tell each other what’s on our mind, what we need, and when we hurt each other unintentionally. Not only are we able to communicate those things, we are able to hear each other out all the way. That last part is crucial. In order to be heard, someone has to be willing to sit and listen until you’ve said you piece. If someone doesn’t let me finish what I am saying when it’s important, I will stop them. It is my right to finish my point and then answer questions. 

Overall, my communication skills have greatly improved since I learned DEAR MAN. It’s taught me to be sympathetic of others and to not bottle up my feelings and opinions about others. 

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