“Dear Man”

In an earlier post, ‘DBT: The Skills’, DEAR MAN is used in objectiveness effectiveness as part of interpersonal effectiveness. Interpersonal effectiveness is described as the ability to increase the changes that will help you reach the outcome you are looking for in a specific situation, while not hurting the relationship you have with others or losing self-respect.

DEAR MAN is useful in situations in which you are asking for what you want or refusing a request from someone else. It is also useful for those with depression or mental illness because it is an effective way to communicate your emotions, your wishes and desires and allow you to negotiate a possibly tenuous situation.

DEAR MAN stands for:

Describe

Express

Assert

Reinforce

 

Mindful

Appear confident

Negotiate

Describe the current situation. Tell the person exactly what you are reacting to and stick to the facts. By doing this, you are making clear your perception of the situation but you aren’t coloring it with your feelings, but sticking only to the facts.

Express your feelings and opinions about the situation. Assume that others cannot read your mind and know how you feel. Don’t expect others to know how hard it is for you to ask directly for what you want or to refuse. Use ‘I want’ or ‘I don’t want’ statements instead of ‘I need’, or ‘you should’.

Assert yourself. Ask for what you want or say no clearly. Assume that others will not figure out what you want unless you ask. Don’t assume that others can read minds. And don’t expect others to know how hard it is for you to ask directly for what you want.

Reinforce the person ahead of time by explaining the consequences or the reward. Tell the person the positive effects of getting what you want or need. Also tell the person, if necessary, the negative effects of getting what you want or need. Help the person feel good ahead of time for doing or accepting what you want.

Mindfully keep your focus on your objectives. Maintain your position and don’t be distracted. Keep asking, or keep saying no, if necessary, express your opinion over and over, rewording but staying on point. Ignore the person if they attack, threaten, or try to change the subject and ignore any attempt to divert you from your goal. Don’t respond to attacks and just keep making your point!

Appear confident by using a confident tone and physical manner; make good eye contact. Appear effective and confident. Don’t stammer, whisper, stare at the floor, retreat or say things like ‘I’m not sure’ etc.

Negotiate by being willing to give to get. Maintain your point, but offer and ask for alternative solutions to the problem and ask what the other person is willing to do to fix the problem. Stick to simple things and make your goals realistic. Focus on what will work. What am I willing to ‘settle for’ or ‘give up’ in order to gain what I want in the situation?

Sometimes it helps to write out DEAR MAN for specific situations so you know what to say and how to say it. A more simplified version of DEAR MAN is: “I feel ______ when you ________. I want _______.”

Using ‘I feel’ and ‘I want’ can be difficult, but by phrasing your requests in this manner, you are refraining from accusations which can make people feel attacked.

I have also attached a form that can help you use DEAR MAN in real life situations.

Advertisements

The Word “Should”

While in therapy, we talked about the word ‘should’. Because of this discussion, it is my honest belief that ‘should’ is one of the worst words in the English language. The word should is defined as used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency. I think it’s easier to say that the word should most often is used to place guilt or blame. We say someone should do something because that is our opinion however our opinion, while it might have some weight based on our relationship with that person, can’t be the deciding factor for someone to do something. Instead, should is used to indicate blame or lay guilt if the person doesn’t do what we say they ‘should’.

A good replacement for the word should, is like or want. “I would like you to…” rather than “You should…” By replacing should with like you are stating your opinion rather than placing blame or guilt. I’m not saying that the word be removed from our language entirely because there are some instances when it is appropriate to use. However, when it is used to place guilt or blame, it can hurt or harm another person.

So lately, I have been attempting to remove the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary. It’s proven harder than I thought. In just writing this post, I’ve had to rethink how to word sentences because I would normally use the word ‘should’. But this exercise has taught me that is important to think about what you say before you say it. You never know how what you say may affect another person.

 

Control

“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Charles C. Noble

We all have a desire to control our lives. We feel helpless when we feel like our lives are not in control, and the problem comes when we can’t let go of that control. The only thing we can control is our behaviors and actions. We can’t control other people, certain situations and their behaviors. Anxiety comes from the worry that we have because of the uncertainty of our situations. By letting go of our need for control, we can find some peace within our lives.

We have a number of choices when it comes to letting go of control. We can accept people as they are and let go of our need to ‘fix’ them. We can let go of the ‘victim’ role within relationships. Be strong enough to get your emotional needs met. Let go of your ‘shoulds’ for people and yourself. Should implies guilt and shame. Read more about Should here. See other people as having wounds, not faults. Realize that the only ‘failed’ relationship is one that you didn’t learn from. Often failed relationships are helpful life lessons. Choose to see the love and the good in other people and yourself. We also need to let go of a thirst for approval, super competitive-comparative mode (comparing yourself to others) and relying too much on other people.

You can understand more about yourself and where your need for control comes into play, by asking yourself two questions. What are three unhealthy habits in your life? And what are you willing to do to break these habits?

In the end, you have to remember that all we can change is ourselves. “It is as it is.” So if you’re having trouble remembering this, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. How much control do I have? What is outside my control?
  2. “It is as it is”. I’m not agreeing with or giving up on it, but I can let it go for now
  3. If I can’t change the situation, can I change the way I think or do about it?
  4. What can I do that is within my control?

 

Accountability & Victimization

Accountability is to take responsibility usually for one’s actions, feelings and beliefs. It is a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.

Victimization is to become the victim. Victimization occurs naturally when someone is duped, swindled or the necessary enforcements are not followed through. (I.e. victim blaming, etc.) However many people will cast themselves as a victim in order to make themselves feel or look better or to deflect a problem away from them. Victimization is also to deny, ignore, defer, criticize and blame.

Accountable Stance Victim Stance
Sense of reality Excuse Making
Ownership, commitment Projection onto others, Blaming others
Solutions to problems Deflection, Confusion
Determined Action Attitude of helplessness
Implement change Status Quo

People who victimize themselves have stories to explain why things go wrong, while people who hold themselves accountable are empowered by commitment and hard work. These types of victims will ignore their responsibility for a situation, often playing the blame game and creating their own reality where they are always portrayed as the victim. They often feel stuck in life feeling confused, asking for help, claiming that they can’t do something or they will wait to see if a situation will miraculously resolve itself.

There are four steps to moving from victimization to accountability. These can be related back to the Wizard of Oz:

Character Example Action
Lion Courage See It
Tin Man Heart Own It
Scarecrow Wisdom Solve It
Dorothy Means Do It
Wicked Witch Bully (or yourself/mind) Victimization

See It

This first step takes courage and involves acknowledging reality. This can also involve gaining feedback from others to keep yourself on track and gain insight. Accountable people gain other people’s insights and perceptions to add to their own to recognize when you might be acting like the victim

Own It

The second step involves heart and owning your circumstances.Recognize where you are at in life. Are you portraying yourself as the victim? Recognize this and take accountability for your actions and behaviors that have kept you from moving forward.

Solve It

In this step, you must use wisdom to solve the issues. This behavior stems from asking “What else can I do?” It pushes you to find solutions to your problems which leads you to step four.

Do It

This step is the means or way and  means accepting responsibility for your behaviors and actions. you follow through with your plans, implement strategies and execute ideas. Falling short indicates the lack of accountability and responsibility.

According to the Oz Principle, there are 16 traits of accountability. These are:

  1. Obtaining the perspectives of others.
  2. Being open and candid in communication.
  3. Asking for and offering feedback.
  4. Hearing the hard things so that you openly see the reality of the situation.
  5. Being personally invested.
  6. Learning from both successes and failures.
  7. Ensuring that your work is aligned with results.
  8. Acting on the feedback that you receive.
  9. Constantly asking, “What else can I do?”
  10. Collaborating across functional boundaries.
  11. Creatively dealing with obstacles.
  12. Taking the necessary risks.
  13. Doing the things you say you’ll do.
  14. Not blaming others.
  15. Tracking progress with proactive and transparent reporting.
  16. Building an environment of trust.

These steps and traits can be used in your personal and professional life.

https://www.ozprinciple.com/self/steps-to-accountability/

http://www.resourcesinaction.com/articles/PDFs/acctability_vicitm.pdf

Perceptions

I once sat in on a communications college level class where the teacher said that when you communicate with someone, there are actually 6 ‘people’ involved in the conversation. There is you, the other person, how you perceive the other person, how they perceive you, how you perceive that they perceive you and how they perceive how you perceive you. That’s a lot going on in one conversation, but perceptions are a huge part of communication. How we perceive ourselves and others can color our views of ourselves, others and how we communicate.

Our perceptions are often not based on reality. What we perceive is often based upon our own personal realities and not based on fact. Our perceptions are colored by our experiences, feelings and beliefs, none of which are the exactly the same as another person’s. Perception is defined as ‘the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding’. Perception is a cognitive act and can therefore be distorted. Cognitive Distortions are thoughts that cause reality to be inaccurately perceived. Please see the article “Cognitive Distortions.”

Perceptions can cause problems because oftentimes one person will perceive something one way while another person may perceive it in another way. This can cause complications and confusion especially when the two people are not actively communicating with each other. Active communication can clear up any issues caused by misperception. By making sure that your perceptions are communicated clearly, and by understanding other people’s perceptions, you can have a better understanding of the world and environment around you.

Perceptions are a fact of life. Everyone is going to perceive ideas, beliefs and actions in different manners based on their experiences. Just because their perception is different from yours, doesn’t mean that either perception is wrong. The world is full of perceptions and beliefs that help us view and understand our worlds. Perceptions are not good or bad, black or white. They are what they are and it is helpful to understand that to better communicate with the world.