Saying What You Mean, But Not Saying It Mean

by Balboa Horizons | March 16, 2017

Spending many years numbing with drugs and alcohol can stunt ones emotional growth. As humans grow their relationships and life experiences naturally become more challenging. However, if when a stressful situation arises one chooses to handle it with a glass of wine and shying away from confrontation, our much needed communication skills can become stunted. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) offers many tools to practice being aware of our emotions, needs and communicating them in ways that maintain healthy relationships.

One exercise used is called DEAR MAN. It stands for:

D- Describe

E- Express

A – Assert

R – Reinforce

M- Mindful

A – Appear Confident

N – Negotiate

Here’s a scenario to use it in:

Christine and Jessica share an apartment together. They have agreed to split the house chores. But, Jessica forgets to clean and needs to be reminded by Christine throughout the month. This frustrates Christine. Here Christine is going to practice asking for what she needs:


“Jessica, when we moved in together we agreed to split the housecleaning chores.”


“I enjoy having the house clean throughout the month. I feel frustrated when I find myself reminding you to do your chores.”


“I would like it if we could agree to do our chores during the first week of the month.”


“I think if we get our chores done during the first week of the month we could get them out of the way and enjoy the rest of our time in the house.”

Stay Mindful

[Staying mindful of her voice, tone, facial expressions and body language Christine is focussing on the subject. If Jessica tries to steer the conversation away with something like, “Well my schedule is all over the place I can’t know if I’ll have time during the first week of the month.” Christine could say, “I can compromise. Are you willing to get the chores done during the first 2 weeks of the month?”

Appear Confident

Even though Christine felt anxious about taking to Jessica about chores she decided to appear confident by remembering a time she was confident. Recalling her body language and demeanor she kept that in mind during the conversation.


If Jessica doesn’t agree on doing the house chores than Christine needs to be ready to negotiate other alternatives; doing chores at the end of the month, hiring a maid, etc…