Attention teenagers: Does it feel like you never get what you want. It’s like, no matter what you ask for, the answer is “no.” Your parents never understand your point of view. Fortunately, you can impact future requests by developing skills to get what you want.
A counseling tool called DEAR MAN can be used to develop this skill. You can hear an overview of the DEAR MAN technique on Marielle Berg’s podcast called “The Skillful Podcast.”
First, prepare for the conversation ahead of time. This helps regulate your emotions and keep a calm, confident demeanor (this goes a long way with adults).
I’ll share the DEAR MAN steps and then give an example:
D – Describe the situation (stick to the facts here). My tip is to consider the other’s perspective if you can.
E – Express your feelings. I feel statements work well.
A – Assert what you need. Be specific and clear.
R – Reinforce how this will benefit you AND the other.
M – Stay Mindful Stay focused on this request. Don’t get caught up in bigger topics.
A – Appear Confident Use confident body language, make eye contact.
N – Negotiate. Be willing to compromise.
I know, I know, it sounds like a lot of steps but it’s actually not too bad. Here’s an example:
Let’s say your parents want you to play club soccer next year and you really don’t want to play…
You: Mom, dad, (D) it’s time to sign up for soccer next year and I know you both want me to play. (E) This year was really difficult for me. I don’t feel enjoyment anymore and the energy that goes into playing really takes a toll on me. (A) I don’t want to play club soccer next year.
Mom: We’ve already told you that you have to play. It’s important that you stay active and you can’t spend all of your free time watching YouTube videos.
You: Well, (R) I can focus more on school and even look at art classes. I know that I’ll have more energy and be a happier kid which I think you might appreciate.
Mom: Last time we let you take time off of activities you sat in your room all the time and it’s not good for you to do that.
You: Well, (R/M) I know you want me to focus more on school and I know that I can. I also want to try the art classes.
Mom: You have to do something this summer. How about you at least join the recreational team for the summer only and see how it goes. Then we can look at the art classes in the fall.
You: (N) Yeah, I can do that.
I know this is a simple example, but the keys are; prepare, be clear, stay on topic, avoid getting emotional or argumentative, consider what’s in it for them, and compromise.
Once you master this, you can use it for the rest of your life to get what you want!!
Licensed Professional Counselor Intern
Under Supervision of Tiffany Smith LPC-S, LMFT-S, NCC