Couple arguing

By Randy Moraitis MA, BCPC, CPC

Hard conversations are no fun, but they are a reality of life. Sooner or later you will have to have a hard conversation—with a friend, family member, coworker, customer, or client.

Since hard conversations are inevitable, and avoiding them usually only compounds the problem, the smart move is to prepare for the conversation so you can have the best possible outcome.

Here is a great tool to use whenever faced with a difficult conversation. Using this tool you will result in you responding mindfully to the conversation instead of getting sucked in and responding emotionally or reactively.

The tool is an acronym called DEAR MAN and is used as a script to prepare before having that hard conversation. Here is how it works:

Describe the situation/facts as you would to the person.

Express how you feel about the situation/facts.

Assert by directly stating what you want or don’t want.

Reinforce by sharing how your request will help you and the other person.

Mindful—stay focused and mindful of the issues at hand. Don’t get sidetracked.

Appear Confident—even if you don’t feel confident! Maintain eye contact, be calm and speak confidently.

Negotiate—explore other options for a solution.

The next time you are faced with a hard conversation, set yourself up for success by taking a few moments to go through the DEAR MAN exercise in advance. You’ll be glad you did.

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this. You can email me at or visit my websites or

DEAR MAN exercise is adapted from Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual (1993)

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