"The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world." - Toni Collette

These practices are supported by research and we encourage folks to give them a try. But, we also acknowledge that we all have different backgrounds and experiences. This may make your strategies and practices look different in your family.

Assertive Communication

Have you ever had trouble telling friends and family what you need? Have you ever lost sight of your own needs as you’ve tried to meet others’ expectations? It can be hard to navigate. The DEAR MAN strategy below can help you ask for something from someone, resolve conflict and say no when you need to, all while keeping good relationships.


Assertive communication skills (based on Interpersonal Competence Skills from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)

Describe: Describe the situation in a simple way. Stick to the facts.

Express: Express your feeling using “I” statements. “I feel…” or “I would like…”. Stay away from “you should…”

Assert: Ask for what you want or say “no” clearly. Be direct. Remember, the other person cannot read your mind.

Reinforce: Reinforce what is in it for the other person. Explain how getting what you want can be positive for your relationship and/or for the other person.

Mindful: Keep your focus on the present issue. Don’t bring up past events and avoid going on a rant. Ignore distractions. If the person starts acting defensive, try to keep the conversation on topic.

Appear Confident: Stand or sit up straight. Make eye contact. Use a confident tone of voice.

Negotiate: You might need to change your request to make it more appealing to the other person. Ask for the other person’s input and try to resolve the problem together, finding a solution that works for both of you.

Can’t remember DEAR MAN? Want to use it with younger kids? Try this shortened version of assertive communication skills to help set boundaries.

A pear is speaking to a pineapple and says, "Thank you for talking - it helped a lot!" The pineapple responds, "I agree!" The caption reads: "Fruitful Conversation."

WIN Formula for Communication

W – When You: 

  • Briefly describe the situation you want to discuss

I – I Feel: 

  • Use I messages to explain how it made you feel

N – I Need: 

  • Set a clear boundary. What do you need from the person.

When we communicate clearly, we all win!

Helpful Resources

Check out these resources to learn more:

Mindful Minute

The Breathing Space by Jon Kabat Zinn (3:48)

Community Events

Woolwich Counselling

Lunch & Learns for Caregivers with WRDSB Psychology Department

Wednesdays from 12:15 to 12:45 pm

February 16: Mindfulness – Living in the Present Moment
February 23: Secrets of Reinforcement: Your Parenting Gold Star!
March 2: Self-Compassion – Good for Parents, Good for the Kids

Need Some Help?

For urgent matters call 911 or go to your local emergency room

Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or text “CONNECT” to 686868

Front Door: 519 749 2932, and press “1”

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For more information about this newsletter contact Mary Murphy at 519-570-0003, ext. 4172.