Why Aren’t You Listening to Me?

Do you ever feel like you go around in circles trying to explain yourself to your friends or family? Do you ever feel like conversations with the most important people in your life end up going in a direction you did not intend? Perhaps you bring up hurtful events from the past and the conversation gets side-tracked.

When this happens, it can often result in ruptures to our relationships causing resentment or hostility. Maybe we think others in our life know what we need or want? We have to remember that no one is a mindreader, and we need to communicate in a way that assures others truly understand us.

Below are some evidenced-based tools derived from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). These techniques can improve your relationships and increase your communication effectiveness. The acronym DEAR MAN teaches skills for interpersonal effectiveness with each letter representing a key component.

Below is a brief description of each skill with the easy to remember “DEAR MAN” acronym.

1. Describe the situation setting up the conversation, not asking for anything or expressing feelings, just sticking to the facts.

2. Express yourself using “I statements”. This helps the other person understand where you are coming from and ensures the other person does not feel defensive.

3. Assert by clearly stating what you want or need in a direct way.

4. Reinforce and recognize the importance of the person making it clear why what you want or need is important to you and how it would reward them.

5. Mindfulness of staying on topic. Remember the intention of the conversation and do not be distracted (looking at your phone). Remember if the other person goes off topic or brings up something else, stay focused and return to the discussion at hand.

6. Appear Confident by keeping your head up, making direct eye contact, standing or sitting up straight, and speaking clearly and calmly.

7. Negotiate and remember the goal is to resolve the problem and show that you care about the relationship, and sometimes that means there will be some give and take.

I encourage you to practice these tips and assure you that with effort this skill can make a difference.  Click here to watch a short video to demonstrate the DEAR MAN skills in use. 

Here’s to your Well Being!

Kelly Smith-Pampin, LCSW
Licensed Therapist