Recently I logged onto my online banking to discover a charge from a cable service I had cancelled about a month ago. The cable company is looking for $82.68 (CDN). I did not know what this charge was for, given I returned the cable box well before the end of January (when service would officially stop). I immediately became angry and tried calling the cable company but hung up because I didn’t want to get angry with the poor soul who was unfortunate enough to get my call routed to them.
I also became very angry with B. Unemployment has left him unable to consistently help me pay shared expenses and the debt that is on my credit card as the result of a money scam (I took out money to help him pay for a loan that never came). I just started working and have yet to be paid and it is very daunting to know that I need to pay this bill alone. I decided I needed to talk to B about this. I wanted to do this as effectively as possible so I pulled up a worksheet I downloaded that takes you through three skills: DEAR MAN, GIVE and FAST. Click here for the worksheet.
I would like to go through each section (in 3 parts) to show you how I prepared for this conversation with B. I can fully admit that he threw me for some loops and I lost a bit of control (I began to cry, I swore once and raised my voice a little) but I kept reminding myself of the things I had written down on my worksheet which did help me not get as angry as I know I could have.
Beginning with DEAR MAN. This is a skill to use to get what you want from another (no guarantees, but proper communication goes a long way!). Each skill is explained in detail here.
Here is how I filled out the worksheet.
Prompting Event: What led me to communicate with this person?
I saw an unexpected charge on my Visa and it made me upset because I am paying all of our bills.
Objectives Goal: What do I want to change as a result of my communication?
I want B to see that he needs to take responsibility.
Relationship Goals: How do I want the other person to feel about me?
That I am trying my best and will communicate with him.
Self Respect Goal: How do I want to feel about and see myself?
That I can stand up for myself.
Describe the facts as you would say them to the person:
“I am paying for your debt and our shared expenses. I do not have the money to do this.”
Express your opinions, feelings and desires about these facts:
“I feel resentful and scared. I don’t like having debt and I don’t like spending money on your debt.”
Assert by directly asking for what you want:
“I want you to make the debt on my Visa a priority.”
Reinforce/Reward by stating how your request would lead to things the other person wants or cares about.
“You will owe me less later and we’ll both have more money to spend.”
Describe any strategies for being Mindful:
I will only talk about one topic (paying the Visa) and ignore topic changes.
Describe any strategies to Appear Confident:
I will use a confident tone, I will not yell and be assertive.
Be prepared to Negotiate by saying:
“I am open to the amount paid. What do you think you can do?”
I felt very prepared going into this conversation and it did go better than it could have if I had just run off pure emotion and done whatever. For the first time, I had a game plan and it felt good!
Yesterday morning I asked B if he could provide me with feedback on our discussion. He said that I did better 🙂 It was great to hear because I felt I had done a lot better. I am proud of myself! Practice makes progress!
(Update: Since I began writing this piece we called the cable company and the charge is our “last bill”. Stupid billing cycles….but it’s all been paid. There goes half my paycheck)
Have you ever used DEAR MAN? Does this seem like a skill you could work into your life?