Conflict appears in every aspect of everyday life. In some cases, handling conflict effectively may be trickier. One of the areas where it seems to have debilitating effects is our workplace.
Thankfully, there is a technique that can be useful and guide you in managing conflict effectively.
The technique DEAR-MAN was a strategy developed for handling any kind of interpersonal communication. Not surprisingly, it is used a lot in work situations that may have an element of conflict, e.g. when you have to ask for a raise, a promotion, to be paid overtime etc. In these difficult situations, keeping this acronym in mind can help you “express your wants and needs in a way that is respectful to you and others” (DEAR MAN, 2020). At the same time, this can “increase the likelihood of positive outcomes from your interactions” (DEAR MAN, 2020).
Start by describing the facts. Try to avoid any judgements and be as clear as possible. For example, you can say, “you are talking to me while I was working with a client”. .
Express your emotions: “When this happens, I feel upset as I lose my concentration”.
Specifically, state what you want or need: “if you have any ideas or feedback, I would prefer you to wait until the client leaves before you discuss anything”.
Show your appreciation if the other person responds well to you. This can strengthen their behaviour. Giving a smile, a nod or saying “thank you” can all work.
Be mindful of your main goal. Stay on the topic you want to discuss and avoid getting distracted by other issues that may be brought up. You can state that you would prefer to focus on this matter before talking about resources needed for the client.
Work on your body language and try to appear confident, even if you don’t feel like it. This includes standing up straight, making eye contact appropriately and minimising fidgeting. Additionally, make sure you are not talking too fast and that your speech is clear.
It is important to know what you are willing to accept. At the same time, be ready to reach a compromise if needed. “You can intervene on the spot for something that is too important to wait”.
Writing down your thoughts and rehearsing your main points can help you look prepared and keep you on track. This way you can establish boundaries respectfully and increase the chances of having your needs met.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Elena Marinopoulou is a Behaviour Analyst with Willingness Team. She works with children and adults and has a strong interest in parent training, sleep and feeding issues, as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
TherapistAid.com. (2020). DEAR MAN [PDF]. Retrieved from https:// www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/dbt-dear-mant
Jameson, Matthew T., “Assessing the Interpersonal Effectiveness of the Dear-Man Skill Using a Social Psychology Paradigm” (2015). Dissertations. 742.