Posted by: counselorcarmella | July 19, 2012

The DEAL Method for Assertive Communication

How To DEAL With Problems Assertively 

Handout put together by Carmella Broome EdS LPC LMFT

Original source of the DEAL method unknown but highly appreciated


This is an easy method for trying to help  someone else understand my thoughts, feelings, and requests. Following this method doesn’t always mean the other person will do what I ask them  to do, but at least I can know I tried to  make myself clear.  This is a way I can  share how I feel and ask for change.  I  can’t make anyone else do something, but  I can at least know I tried.  I know it is best for me to be honest and direct rather than  letting things build up or hoping the other person will guess at how I feel and what I want. I can also use this to journal about situations, my feelings, and my hopes.


I know the other person might have  requests to make of me, as well.  I will try to  listen and to work with the other person to come up with  a solution we both feel good about. I will  try and be sensitive to their feelings just as I hope they are trying to be sensitive to mine.  I will approach this conversation with a positive attitude and  try and give the other person the benefit of the doubt that they  have good intentions towards me. I will  be clear and calm as I express myself. I will practice this out loud to myself or role play it with someone else I trust if I need to.  I know the more I do this, the better I’ll feel about it and the more confident I will be to assert myself.


D= Describe:  What happens?  What does the other person do or say?  This is not an assumption about what  they mean, it is a statement about what is observed. This is a factual  statement about something that happens, not a judgment.  Be as specific as possible.  What is the behavior that is bothering you? “When you…”

When you   change the subject when I’m trying to talk to you,  


E= Express feelings.  How  you  react emotionally to what that person does or says, the negative consequence. We tend to want to avoid negative feelings, so it stands to reason that we will  change our behaviors to try and keep from  experiencing negative emotions.


I feel…  ignored, unimportant,   frustrated.  These feelings make it difficult for me to want to  keep trying to talk with you, make me  not want to  bring up  things  that are important to me, lead me to think I should find someone else to talk with, etc.


A= Ask for what you want instead.  What I would prefer is… What I’m asking of you is…  I’m making a request that you…  If you would… instead of…

I’d appreciate it if you would  stick to the subject when you respond to me. I’m requesting that you  not change the subject. 

I  am asking that you  say something that  shows me you’re interested in listening, such as “I care about what you’re saying.”  Or, “I know this really bothers you.” 

I would like it if you would ask a question  to learn more about what I’m saying instead of  changing the subject.

It would be helpful if you would tell me you don’t want to talk about this right now and suggest a different time when we can talk instead of just changing the subject.

This would be easier for me if you would tell me if you aren’t sure what to say or if you feel  uncomfortable so I’ll know what you’re feeling and don’t have to guess.

I would feel better if you  would tell me my feelings matter to you and that  you  appreciate me  bringing up a difficult subject.


L=List.  How I think things   would be better if this happened?  What I think the positive result would be.

I think we would be able to talk more openly so our relationship would be better.

I would   feel like you really mean it when you say you care.

I would feel  more able to  share with you.


I can also use the DEAL method to let someone know I hope they’ll continue to do something.


Describe:  When you asked me before borrowing my blue sweater,

Express.  I felt respected and cared about.  I felt happy that you asked me instead of just barging into my room and  taking what you wanted. I appreciated your courtesy.

Ask.  I hope you’ll do that again next time you want to borrow something of mine.

List. Then, I’ll be more likely to let you borrow what you want and we’ll both feel good about  the situation.


Describe.  When you call just to say hi,

Express. I feel special and thought about.

Ask. I hope you’ll keep doing that

List. I’ll  keep feeling those good  emotions and  we’ll be even closer.


Books On Assertiveness:

  • Alberti, Robert E. & Emmons, Michael L. Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships. 2001
  • Bower, S.A. & Bower, G.H. Asserting Yourself: A Practical Guide for Positive Change. 1991
  • Lloyd, Sam R. Developing Positive Assertiveness: Practical Techniques for Personal Success. 2001
  • Milne, Pamela E . “The People Skills Revolution: A Step-by-Step Approach to Developing Sophisticated People Skills”, Global Professional Publishing 2011
  • Paterson, Randy J. The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships. 2000
  • Smith, M. J. When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. 1975



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