Erik Bohlin, M.A., LMHC
New Hope Counseling Service
430 91st AVE NE, STE 8
Everett, WA 98205
the situation and behaviors, not
intentions or motives
in concrete terms, specify time,
or amount of times something happened
avoid using vague language, “all
the time,” “never” but use most of time, or more often than not.
“I feel ______________ and __________________.”
“I am ____________________.”
If you use “I feel that. . .” you
are expressing an opinion and not an emotion.
express them in a manner so as to
help remedy the situation
“I want ____________________________________________.”
be specific and concrete
use a specific time frame
ask within reason
If you do ________________, then ___________________.
If you do not ________________, then ___________________.
Tips for using the DESC
- You can stop anywhere
along the four steps. You might just describe what happened. You might
describe and express. You might need to just describe, express and specific.
And when you are dealing with someone who really isn’t remorseful and needs
some consequences you might add them at this point.
- Writing it down, getting
it perfectly written is really useful. This is not something you do
haphazardly. Some people pray, fast and prepare for the meeting. Putting it
in writing and reading it to them, helps you not say what you don’t want to
say. It keeps us calm. On the other hand, it may help us stick to our points
and not soften what we need to say out of fear. If the person gets reactive,
defensive and tries to distort what we said, we have it is writing. Sometimes
they go and say to others things we didn’t say. We can say to them, this is
what I said [because we have a copy], if it is appropriate to dialogue with
anyone else. We don’t want to gossip. Having it in writing also helps them
read it again maybe in private to reconsider their defensive stance.
- Deliver it in person in
a loving manner and in a neutral place. No one really likes to be confronted
in there home or on your turf. Go to a place where each party could leave in
peace if the need arises.
- Each of the four steps
should be very short. The DESCRIBE can be maybe 3-4 sentences. It takes work
to condense and stick to the facts. It can be done, if you get stuck, call me
and we can work it through together. The EXPRESS and SPECIFY are one sentence
each, “I feel ______ and ______,” and “I want ________.” The CONSEQUENCES are
two “if . . . then” statements. Start with the positive outcome first, “if
they do ____ then _______. This usually results in a better relationship.
Stating the “if you do not. . .” is really important. This is what is going
to cause them to listen to your request. They may begin to realize that they
are losing a relationship with you. The choice is there. Let’s be clear. We
are not withholding a relationship with them or “writing them off.” We are
offering a relationship under certain conditions, and these conditions are not
asking too much.
- Some of us are too hurt
and hold to much bitterness to want the relationship to work. Do not offer an
“if you do” promise if you are not willing to work with them Better to work
it out and get yourself to a place of forgiveness and an openness for them to
change, before you do this. We often predict a negative outcome by say, “I
know how they are going to respond,” or “I know what they are going to say.”
This is wrong of us. We can’t play God and predict the future in this. This
is judging them and not allowing any possibility for change. If they can’t
change, then maybe we can either. It is a dangerous way to live life, not
keeping hope than anyone can change. Does this mean we become vulnerable and
allow them to hurt us all over again. Sometimes. But many times not. We try
to be neutral to allow them to apologize if they want to.