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It can be difficult to talk to your supervisor or HR department at the best of times. If you want to talk to them about a more sensitive topic, it can be even harder.

Your mind might be filled with worries and questions like: "Will they understand what I'm trying to say?" "How will they react?" "What if I embarrass myself?"

The good news is that using the DEARMAN technique can help you figure out what you want to say ahead of time, express yourself more clearly, and increase the chances that your boss or HR will be receptive to your message.

DEARMAN is a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) interpersonal skill that will help you articulate what you want to say in a conversation.

Describe

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The D in DEARMAN stands for describe.

Stick to the facts. Do not include how you're feeling.

Some examples of describing might include:

  • "I have not had a raise in two years."

  • "I have worked overtime every night for the last two weeks."

  • "Someone is spreading rumors about me at work."

Quiz

The D in DEARMAN means describe. When describing make sure you ______.

State your expectations

State what you are feeling

Use facts observable with your 5 senses

None of these

Express

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The E in DEARMAN stands for express.

Express how you feel about the situation. Be careful not to blame the other person for what you are feeling. No saying "You make me so angry!" Try to speak in a calm tone.

Some examples of expressing yourself might include:

  • "I believe I deserve a raise. I feel unappreciated since it's been two years since I've had one."

  • "I am really worn out from working overtime the last two weeks. It's starting to impact my family."

  • "I'm angry and embarrassed that someone at work is spreading rumors."

Quiz

In the 2nd step of DEARMAN, express ___________.

How you feel about the situation

What you want

That these changes must happen

None of these

Assert

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The A in DEARMAN stands for assert.

Tell your supervisor or HR what you want to happen. Be assertive, not aggressive. In other words, speak loud enough for the other person to hear you, but don't yell. Stand up straight, or lean forward slightly if you're sitting. Don't tower over the other person or get in their face.

Some examples of asserting yourself might include:

  • "I would like a raise."

  • "I don't want to work so much overtime."

  • "I would like you to find out who is spreading rumors about me and get them to stop."

Quiz

When you tell your boss what you want, it's important to _________.

Be assertive

Be aggressive

Demand what you want

None of these

Reinforce

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The R in DEARMAN stands for reinforce.

Let your boss or HR know how giving you what you want will benefit them and the company. Focus on a win-win outcome.

Examples of reinforcement might be:

  • "Giving me a raise would benefit the company because I would be happier, more motivated and feel valued."

  • "Working less overtime would improve my performance because I would be more rested."

  • "If employees feel supported and safe at work, everyone would have better morale."

Quiz

Reinforcing means ______________.

Creating a win-win situation

Making your point forcefully

Telling your boss you will quit!

None of these

Mindful

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The M in DEARMAN stands for mindful.

Be aware of how the other person might feel. Stay focused on your goal for the conversation. Don't get sidetracked.

Quiz

Being mindful means _________.

Meditating before talking to your boss

Keeping your objective in mind

Talking about a lot of different topics

None of these

Act Confident

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The A in DEARMAN stands for act confident.

It's important to remember the step does not say to be confident. Act confident even if you don't feel especially confident.

You can project confidence by keeping appropriate eye contact, standing up straight, speaking up and using a strong tone of voice.

Avoid behaviors that indicate fearfulness, such as over-apologizing, mumbling, or speaking too softly.

Quiz

To do this step effectively you need to ________.

Act confident

Be confident

Be aggressive

None of these

Negotiate

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The N in DEARMAN stands for negotiate.

Sometimes you have to give a little to get what you want. Be ready to make some compromises to reach your goal.

Quiz

Being willing to negotiate means __________.

Demanding you get your way

Giving in to your boss or HR

Being willing to give in order to get

None of these

Summary

Byte Author Uploaded ImageBefore you go talk to your supervisor or Human Resources about a difficult topic, it might help to write out a script using the DEARMAN acronym as a guide. This will help you clarify what you want to say and increase the likelihood that your request will be well received.

And remember, you can use the DEARMAN skill in any interaction where you need to make a request.

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This Byte has been authored by

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Deb Dobrich

Learning Experience Designer/Byte Advisor