Confession: Lately I have been really stressed out. I’ve been so stressed that I ended up getting sick twice in January! My body was telling me to ssslllooowww down. When you’re hustling, you feel like you’re doing SO much. But the moment you get sick or experience burnout, you end up losing so much precious time recovering, that in the end, the turtle actually wins the race. Here’s how to use Dear Man to communicate what you want effectively.
Disclaimer: I have partnered with Lean In Los Angeles for this post but, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links which means, at no cost to you, if you click and purchase, you may contribute a few cents to my coffee addiction. (Thank you! 😉 )
Dear Man: How to Effectively Communicate What You Want While Reducing Stress
The universe has a funny way of delivering signs. The day I felt super fatigued, I found an email in my inbox from my favorite women’s networking group: Lean In Los Angeles. They announced they were hosting a workshop about stress management and self care. Mmmm yes, please! By the way, Lean In is global community created for women to empower one another, founded by Sheryl Sandberg, based on key principles from her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. If you are a woman and you have not yet found your local chapter, head over to their website and signup (and if you’re in Los Angeles, say hi at a future event!).
On Saturday, February 3, 2018 was the LILA x LUNYA Says Relax event. Anytime a networking opportunity mentions coffee, wine, yoga, Find Your Why, stress management techniques, shopping, raffle prizes… and tells you to dress comfortably… I’m there.
The day started off with mingling and networking amongst a diverse set of women who were all coming to learn and meet new people. I was pleasantly surprised when this lady asked me, “You’re Emily, right?” Turns out we have been following each other for months on Instagram and today was the day we finally met in real life! I’m always amazed at how connected we are thanks to the internet. But nothing will ever replace the face-to-face interactions… I’m so thankful to walked out of the event with a (few) new friends!
The Majority of the People are Passionate About Helping Others
We had a wonderful workshop led by Kara of Dream. Set. Make. Before she taught us a helpful exercise to find our “Why” (our purpose on this planet), she had us go around the room and introduce ourselves. As people introduced their name, their occupation, they also included things they were passionate about and what they thought their why was. It was amazing to hear so many people “wanting to help others” and “make a difference”.
Throughout the workshop, a participant raised her hand to say, “I am always readily available to help others but often find it difficult asking others for help. I don’t want to feel like a burden.” This seemed to be a common theme as women are often nurturing by nature. Kara made a really great point that during the introductions, we learned there was a room filled with people who want to help others and make a difference.
The takeaway? People feel wonderful being a resource for others and solving other people’s challenges. If you think about it, you often feel gratification when someone says, “Thank you!” or tells you how much of a help you’ve been. Why not let others experience this great feeling by unapologetically asking another person to give you a hand?
People feel wonderful being a resource for others and solving other people’s challenges.
Use DEAR MAN to Communicate What You Want
After we scarfed down our nutritious salads, we reconvened for the second workshop led by Dr. Margaret Hunt, a psychologist specializing in therapy including supporting burnout high-performing women. She led us through a few exercises, but one that was new to me was a technique she calls DEAR MAN which is a component of dialectical behavioral therapy.
DEAR MAN is a mnemonic device that provides an outline of how to effectively communicate what you want when facing confrontation. Confrontation never feels good but it’s critically important you share your needs and expectations in an open manner. If you don’t address your concerns, more often than not, one or more parties walks away with resentment, guilt, anger, or disappointment.
How to Use DEAR MAN
Note: This exercise is provided by Therapist Aid. Let’s breakdown the acronym so you can see how this effective communication tool is used.
Describe: As clear and concise as possible, share in detail what you want from this other person. Be assertive.
Instead of, “Could you please do the dishes?” say, “Could you do the dishes before going to bed?”
Express: Let them know how this makes you feel while being intentional and mindful of the other person’s feelings. People are not mind readers so speak up.
Instead of, “You aren’t contributing and I feel like you’re lazy” say, “I feel exhausted because I just cooked, cleaned the bathroom, and worked 8 hours.”
Assert: Be matter of fact on what your request is without being passive aggressive or aggressive. Don’t beat around the bush.
Instead of, “Oh, well, I don’t know if I can do the dishes tonight” say, “I won’t be able to do the dishes because I need to finish up some emails.”
When possible, share with them what benefits they will receive if they comply; in other words, give them a clear incentive or reason on why they should take this into serious consideration.
This can be as simple as a “Thank you” and a smile.
It’s important to keep these in mind when delivering your DEAR message:
Mindful: Remain focused and don’t allow the other person’s reactions to derail your initial intent of how you wanted to walk into this meeting.
Act Confident: Ensure you speak with authority and feel confident in what you’re requesting. If you don’t come across confident, the other person won’t feel confident in obliging.
Negotiation: Always aim above the bar you want to settle with as often asking people to change might involve negotiating and meeting mid-way.
It’s best to start high and land somewhere with progress. You might say, “If you wash the dishes, I’ll put them away.”
So how can we use this in a practical real life situation?
Dr. Hunt recommends when you do go through any conversation that requires you stepping out of your comfort zone, you really recite as much as possible. It never comes easy and natural the first time around, so by practicing with someone you trust beforehand is really helpful and will help build the Act Confident component.
Putting it altogether, this conversation might sound like: Honey, could you do the dishes before going to bed? I feel exhausted because I just cooked and cleaned the bathroom. I won’t be able to do them because I need to finish up some emails. Thank you!
Healthy Relationships = Healthy Balance
It’s really important to practice self love and self care because it’s easy to brush things under the rug. But, remember, when people don’t speak up for themselves, they often feel hurt and resentful. Asserting your own needs is essential and by following the DEAR MAN approach, you can ensure you’re speaking effectively while being fair to the other person and yourself.
And if All Else Fails, Treat Yourself to Yoga…
Yoga seriously has amazing healing powers for the mind, body, and soul. We were guided by Sweat Yoga and spent an hour stretching out all of the stress and tension in our bodies. It felt wonderful. I definitely need to incorporate more yoga into my weekly schedule as I always feel refreshed and awakened after saying, “Namaste.”
What are your favorite networking events or professional organizations?