The holidays can be a great time to get together with friends and family, eat good food, and enjoy yourself. We are encouraged to remember all we have to be thankful for and to spend time with those we love. The holidays should be fun and relaxing, but for some, they can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. We are often expected to be two places at once, and our loved ones may end up feeling sad or betrayed when this is simply not possible. Between work parties, family parties, and getting together with friends we end up feeling exhausted. We try to extend ourselves so much that the holidays become more stressful than they are enjoyable.

Effective communication can help to avoid this holiday burnout. If trying to make it to six different Christmas parties this year is causing you too much stress, then it might not be worth it. Communicating our needs effectively plays a huge role in selfcare. The ‘DEAR MAN’ acronym is a quick and easy way to communicate your needs effectively and efficiently.

Let’s explore effective communication some more:

  • D = Describe the situation factually. This should be a brief sentence that describes the situation without any emotion or feelings.
  • E = Express your feelings. This involves using an “I statement” about how you feel.
  • A = Assert. Describe what your needs are by stating “I need you to…”
  • R = Reinforce. This is where you sell your idea. “This would work because…”
  • M = Mindful. Remain calm while you continue to repeat your needs.
  • A = Appear confident. Don’t minimize the importance of what you are discussing.
  • N = Negotiate. Know your bottom line and work to find a solution that gets your needs met.

Putting this into practice can feel awkward and scripted at first, but with a little practice it can become second nature. Let’s say you already committed to a Christmas party on Christmas Eve, and your in-laws are giving you the infamous ‘guilt trip’ about ‘skipping Christmas’ with them. Here is an example of how to use this technique in this situation:

“You asked us to come to the Christmas party on Christmas Eve, but we had already committed to other plans. I feel frustrated because we can’t make it to both. I need you to be flexible this year and choose a different day for us to celebrate together. This would work because we would be able to spend quality time with both sides of the family.”

This communication technique is effective because it eliminates the potential rebuttal from the other party by focusing on facts, your feelings, and your needs. If used correctly, these things are indisputable. This technique can be used in all kinds of situations to help get your needs met, and it might help make the holidays a little more enjoyable too!

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