Have you ever noticed how we tend to make the most difficult conversation too flowery, too long, and too convoluted? That’s often because it is hard for us to honestly express our feelings; fear keeps us silent. The DESQ (a.k.a. DESC) assertiveness technique can prove helpful at this point. It goes something like this and requires only four sentences and a minute to complete.

D: Describe in a sentence or two what you perceive to be the current situation.

E: Express how that makes you feel.

S: State what you want.

Q/C: Ask a question or state the consequence.

For example:

D: Bob, as you know, we equally split profit after expenses among the four partners. You have reduced your work schedule significantly.

E: I feel anxious that the equity of this arrangement is becoming questionable.

S: I want us to explore if changes are needed.

Q/C: If I let this smolder, the anxiety might grow worse and interfere with the excellent quality of our relationship. When would it be convenient for us to discuss this?

–Or –

D: Mary, in 2007 you were out for 12 weeks.

E: I’m concerned about the workload other staff are assuming.

S: I want to support you and your desire for a more flexible schedule while simultaneously supporting other staff and maintaining profitability.

C: Ignoring this could interfere with the culture of teamwork which we have carefully built over the years. Let’s meet on Monday at 2:00pm to discuss a win/win solution.