When you need to have a potentially difficult conversation with someone, DEAR MAN can be a guide. Here’s a brief explanation.
Imagine that someone has borrowed money from you and hasn’t repaid or mentioned the loan. You need the money. How you talk with them depends to some extent on what your primary goal is. Is your primary goal to get the money? Is your primary goal to keep the friendship? Is your primary goal to maintain your self-respect.? Of course, getting the money, keeping the friendship and maintaining your self-respect would be great, but sometimes you cannot have all three and have to choose. Would you be soft on getting your money back in order to keep the friendship? Knowing your primary goal will guide you in how strongly you express yourself.
Once you decide on your objective, then you can think about what you say. The DEAR is what you say, and the MAN is how you say it.
Here’s an example of what DEAR MAN might sound like if you decide that keeping the relationship is your top priority.
What You Say
D: Describe the situation. A few months ago, I loaned you some money to pay for your car. Now I have a problem in that I need that money to pay my bills.
E: Express your emotion: I care about you and value our relationship. It’s difficult for me to bring this up as I know your finances have been a struggle too.
A: Assert or ask for what you want: I really need for you to repay me, this week if possible.
R: Reinforce: If you could do that, it would be helpful to me and I would want to help you again in the future if you needed it.
How You Say It
M: stay Mindful: Stick to the subject. Don’t bring up other issues or get side-tracked on whatever else may have happened until this particular issue is resolved.
A: Act confident: People listen and pay attention better when you come across as confident.
N: Negotiate: Offer other ideas than the one you asked for (perhaps he could repay part of the loan if he doesn’t have the whole amount now, and repay the rest when he gets some money he is expecting soon). If you run out of ideas, turn the tables and ask, “How would you suggest we resolve this?”
Live a skill-full life. By Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 15, 2020