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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.


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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."


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


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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."


In the 2nd step of DEARMAN, express ___________.


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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."


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


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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."


Reinforcing means ______________.


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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.


Being mindful means _________.

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.


To do this step effectively you need to ________.


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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.


Being willing to negotiate means __________.

Take Action

Byte Author Uploaded Image Before 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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