7 Step Conversation Tips
for Getting What You Want

See also: Communicating in Difficult Situations

Working with others can be hard as a subordinate, and even harder as a manager. Many of us hate giving feedback, and will often double our workload to avoid an awkward conversation.

Tetchy relationships with managers and colleagues is one of the main reasons people leave their current work according to IT recruitment agency Applause IT.

At work, especially if we are more introverted, it is common to live with a stream of feedback which will never make it across the canyon from your brain to the outside world, for fear of how to express it. Or moreover the fear of what expressing it would lead to.

The build-up of these muted comments can leave many employees feeling deflated and looking for new job opportunities.

It also can also make managers prickly to receiving feedback, inhibiting their ability to improve.

Indeed it can be a struggle to hear ‘nit-picky’ grievances when you have a whole reservoir of negative feedback to give them, but that you are too awkward to point out.

With friends and family, we are often more confident in speaking out on things that you may feel are right or wrong. But when pressed, without the right technique in mind, starting an awkward conversation can quickly escalate into emotional turmoil and hurt feelings.

No matter how mundane the debate, the pent up adrenaline of asserting your point can leave many flustered and unable to negotiate with any agility, tact or perspective.

If any of this resonates with you then the DEARMAN, a 7 step conversational technique, will change your world.

It will make you more assertive at work and home without feeling outside yourself. The framework allows for open, clear and concise communication. No more resentment, unmet needs or hurt feelings.

The conversation technique was first developed by Dialectical Behaviour Therapist Dr Marsha Linehan in the 1990s and really does work.

Read on and get ready to feel assertive, confident and respected. Thanks, Dr Linehan.

The DEARMAN Technique

D is for Describe

Describe the situation using only FACTS.

Make this as clear and succinct as you can. Don’t describe the whole problem, which will likely involve assumptions and snowball off topic, but focus on the exact action which you disagree with.

You didn’t CC me in an important client email

E is for Express

Express to them how it made you feel, and how it has affected you personally or professionally.

No need to go overboard here, but they need to know why you care on a human or professional level. Be honest and spend time thinking exactly why it upsets you. This is good place to sanity check your reasoning and make sure you are not overreacting to the problem.

 “It made me feel out of the loop and worried about other things I may not be aware of.”

A is for Assert

Assert exactly what you want to happen in the future. This should be a clear and achievable objective.

 “I would like you to CC me in on all client emails”

If your objective is harder to achieve, suggest ways you could support them in achieving the goal, such as organising a workshop or online course.

R is for Reinforce

Reinforce the value of this and how this will benefit both of you.

“I think this will really help our working relationship as I will be less stressed, and more understanding of your current workload. I’ll also be more likely to help you out if I know what’s going on.”

Naturally, people may wish to stand up for themselves, even out of habit.

The M-A-N part of DEARMAN is to help you deal with defensive or uncooperative behaviour.

M is for Mindful

Be mindful of the task at hand and of the other person’s feelings.

Do not move on this issue until the issue is resolved, but ensure you schedule time in at a later date to listen to their issues.

“I want you to CC me in all your emails from now on”

“You CC me in too many emails! I get so many emails from you I can’t handle it!”

“Ok, I wasn’t aware of this. It must be frustrating but we can discuss it after we’ve sorted this out. Right now we’re talking about how I’d like you to CC me in all your emails”

A is for Act Confident

Some people thrive off conflict and can be particularly strong or combative when you try and address personal problems.

If you’re a naturally peaceful person, it can be very easy to apologise or crumble. It’s vital that you keep a strong, calm tone to your voice and a powerful stance. No tears, no fears, no backing down!

Remember that just because they are louder or more aggressive, does not make them smarter or have more knowledge of the situation.

“I want you to CC me in all your emails from now on”

“I’m sorry I don’t have the time. It’s not important enough. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“This is important to me and we’re going to have this discussion. I’d like you to listen to my reasons before you dismiss them completely

N is for Negotiate

As brilliant as this method is, some people are so stubborn that they won’t see past their own wants and needs. At this point, you’ll have to give a little to get a little.

Don’t be afraid to put this on them, and demand that they think of a solution you’re both happy with.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

It seems scary at first, but using this clever little framework can really help to communicate how rational your thinking is, while also calming any pent-up emotional hardship and suggesting a positive solution to the problem.

Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll feel so much better for getting your thoughts out in a respectable and rational way.

Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about any ruffled feathers. Anyone who has ever been ‘DEARMAN’d will know that by the end, you know exactly what to do, and know that there are no secret resentments. You know how they feel which can take a lot out of anxiety riddled relationship.

If you’re at the end of your tether, drowning in a swarm of unmet needs, please give the DEARMAN technique a try and see how it feels.

There are positives to being a friendly manager and affable friend, but you don’t need to have unmet needs to be liked.

About the Author

Alex Pitts is a Senior Recruitment Consultant at Applause IT Recruitment.

For the last 4 years he has helped to grow organisations in the Midlands by recruiting candidates who fit the client’s company culture and aspirations. His dedication to supporting the candidate experience has led him to lead the training of new recruitment consultants.