DEARMAN GIVE FAST: How to be assertive without being aggressive

One big lesson I’ve learned over the last 12 months is the importance of considering others’ perspectives. The thing I’ve heard a lot during the SCM group I’m due to finish this week, is the “third eye” perspective. For example, if you and somebody else are having a disagreement and you feel like you want to lash out, give yourself 10 seconds to take a step back and imagine you are a 3rd person in the room who is looking in on the situation. The third eye perspective gives us the opportunity to see all views/angles; by taking a step back and seeing things from an outside perspective you can then be more considerate of others’ feelings.

I always ask myself one important question, especially when I’m feeling angry and want to scream and shout at somebody. I ask myself “how would I feel if somebody said/did that to me?”. There are ways of saying things, and sometimes it’s how you say it that matters. You have to consider you body language, tone of voice, eye contact, choice of words and consider whether you’re being fair or are your expectations too high?

The way we remember (in group) how to interact in a more effective way is using the acronym ‘DEARMAN GIVE FAST’. To assert yourself, ask a favour etc, you would use DEARMAN. Which stands for: Describe (describe the facts of the situation), Express (how you feel – “I feel”, without saying “you make me feel” – nobody can make you feel anything, it’s about how you react to other people), Assert (clearly state what you would like to happen), Reinforce (positive reinforcement works well when asserting yourself; showing appreciation etc), Mindful (always be mindful of how you are coming across and of how the other person is feeling), Appear confident (this is difficult but important when asserting yourself), Negotiate (be prepared to negotiate and come up with a plan together).

GIVE is all about how you want the other person to feel after your interaction. You would use GIVE if you want to say something (for example) to somebody but you don’t want to destroy or damage your relationship with this person. GIVE makes you consider how you are coming across to the other person, and stands for: Gentle (gentle manner, regardless of how you feel. Treat people with respect), (appear) Interested (show interest in what the other person has to say; their perspective is just as important as yours. Show interest by using eye contact, nodding etc), Validate (validate others thoughts/feelings/opinions. Check you have understood what they are saying by repeating back what they have said and asking if this is correct, for example), Easy manner (relates to body language, posture, eye contact, smiling etc).

FAST is all about your own self-respect. If you want to maintain your self-respect during and after an interaction, follow FAST. Fair (always consider others’ views and try to reach a mutual conclusion), (no) Apologies (you do not need to apologise for disagreeing with somebody), Stick to your values (know what your values are and stick to them instead of giving in to please other people), Truthful (communicate honestly with the other person and be genuine).

After practicing these skills my assertiveness is at an all time high, even though it’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be yet. It helps me to prepare for situations that I know of in advance (for example, if I’m planning on speaking to somebody about how I felt when they said something to me). It’s good for everyday use with whoever you come across throughout your days.

It is possible to know your own mind, be confident enough to express your own mind, and do it in a way that doesn’t damage and/or completely destroy relationships. Well I never thought I’d say that.