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DBT Series 19 - DEARMAN

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We’ve made it! We are at our final post of the DBT skills series and it is my all-time *favorite* skill. It is time to learn about DEARMAN.

DEARMAN is called the Objective Effectiveness skill, which refers to getting what you want out of a situation by succinctly stating your needs, desires, or saying no. While doing the DEARMAN skill to express a need or to say no to someone else, you can incorporate aspects of GIVE and FAST

DEARMAN is an acronym that stands for:

  • Describe
  • Express
  • Assert
  • Reinforce
  • Mindful
  • Appear Confident
  • Negotiate

Describe. The first part of the skill involves describing the facts of the situation and avoiding interpretations or judgments.

  • Example: “Hey, roommate. I noticed it is almost dinner time and we have no clean dishes.”

Express. This includes expressing how the situation is making you feel. To do this, express your emotions by using an I-Statement. This can look like, “I feel ___ because/when ___.” Be sure to remain mindful and non-judgmental when expressing why the situation is contributing to an emotion.

  • Example: “I feel worried because dinner may be late. I also feel overwhelmed because the dishes are not clean.”

Assert. This is the big ask. Make your request. Decline the invitation to go out. Do this in a clear, concise way. Don’t take the long way around the block.

  • Example: “I need more help with keeping the dishes clean.”

Reinforce. This can refer to thanking the other person for listening and having the conversation with you. You also want to explain (or reinforce) why your request or saying no is a good thing.

  • Example:  “If we come up with a better system to stay on top of the dishes, dinner will be ready on time more often. I will also be a better roommate because I won’t feel so overwhelmed. I really appreciate your willingness to solve this problem with me too.”

Mindful. This helps you stay rooted in your original request and keep your original desired outcome in your mind. Don’t get derailed by other issues and lose sight of what you’re getting after.

  • Example: “I hear that cleaning the bathroom is really important to you. I want to make sure we address that next after figuring out the dishes.”

Appear Confident. Stand tall, keep good eye contact with the other person, and use clear language when making your request or saying no. Sometimes this includes a little bit of fake-it-til-you-make-it. You don’t have to feel 100% confident to make your needs known.

  • Example: Maintain eye contact, remain mindful of your tone, and hold non-defensive body language (i.e., arms crossed versus uncrossed).

Negotiate. Be willing to give a little in order to get a little when it’s appropriate. This helps you maintain your self-respect effectiveness.

  • Example: “I will wash the dishes and you can dry them.”

Want to hear more about the DBT DEARMAN skill? Check out this free video from DBT-RU to hear more! (1)


(1) [@DBTRU]. (2020, December 8). DEARMAN: How to Communicate Assertively  [Video]. YouTube.

Reminder: these blog posts are meant to be purely educational and/or entertainment tools and do NOT replace psychotherapy and/or other medically necessary treatments.

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