Do you have a hard time standing up for yourself and asserting your needs? And is it difficult for you to give feedback to others?

I’d like to share a simple tool I learned many years ago.  It allows you to express your needs with confidence, while avoiding confrontation or hard feelings.   This tool is called the  DESC Model. It serves as an effective framework to help navigate through difficult and potentially messy conversations. 

Developed by Marshal Rosenberg, an American psychologist, the DESC model  is a cornerstone of non-violent communication and has its origins in the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. 

DESC stands for: 

DDescribe the situation

EExpress the emotion or effect 

S  Solution


Let me walk you through an example where you have to express your needs using these the DESC model. 

D: “This is the third time you’re asking me to submit a report at very short notice right before end of day. (Stick to the facts).

E: “I’m already so busy, I’m starting to feel really stressed out.  For me to manage my workload and do a good job, I need more time and more advance notice.” (Express your emotion and the effect on you).

(Now, let them respond.)

S: How do you think we can resolve this issue?  Would it be possible to check in with me throughout the day so we don’t run into these issues?  Or give the report to someone else? (Pivot towards a solution).

C: So, we’ve agreed that you’ll communicate with me and give me an update  by noon so we can see what the status quo is.  Thank you. (Make sure you come up with a plan).

The DESC model allows you to follow a simple roadmap in which you state the facts and honour your emotions.  It’s about communicating clearly without laying blame on your conversation partner.  When you speak with confidence without sounding accusatory it helps you stay out of the emotion and incites the other person to listen without putting any barriers up. 

Further, it serves as a means to collaborate towards a joint solution, or to provide effective feedback so that the other person can improve their behaviour. 

I, along with my clients, have tried the DESC model on many occasions, and it is really useful in communicating your needs while commanding respect and preserving relationships.

So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you need to speak confidently and stand up for yourself, try the DESC model!  And if you need any further tips or guidance, of course, I’m here to help.