Manage Stress using DESC Scripts

Roark in 1978 gave a great description of how we can use DESC scripts to negotiate and find resolutions from for conflicts. You can use DESC scripts to help you build healthy relationships and reduce stress.

Knowing the difference between destructive and constructive conflicts will help you make good decisions in the further. In order to build constructive conflict skills, you must consider using a DESC script, which entails describing, expressing, specifying, and looking into the consequences of your choices. Our goal is to help you develop a solution for resolving conflicts, using assertiveness and negotiating. Thus, we use interpersonal conflict solutions as described below:

Situation that caused you enormous stress

Think - consider a situation that caused you enormous stress. Describe the situation and what occurred that led to you becoming stressed.

Write - Write out the specific details objectively. Use concrete terms to describe a precise time, place, and frequency of action. Rather than consider the cause behind your actions, think only about the actions.


Now express what you feel or felt during that time. Express how the person's behavior made you feel. Elaborate on how the behavior affected you. Try to see the other person's behavior objectively. Calmly state your feelings that occurred from this behavior and show empathy for the other party involved. Try to find something positive that resulted from this heated discussion.

Now ask the person that made you feel badly because of his/her behavior to use another behavior instead. Tell the person what you would prefer to happen the next time. Minimize your requests for changing behaviors to one or two. Specifically tell the other person what you want to happen the next time, or what you want them to stop doing. Consider the other person's ability to make changes without causing harm. Tell the other person what you are willing to change too in order to come to an agreement.

Last, choose some consequences - let the other person know which positive or negative consequences or penalty you will carry out if the other person cannot come to an agreement. Explicitly, tell the other person which consequences you will manage. If the person is willing to make changes, reward them for their good action. Use reinforcing and advantageous rewards.

Next, follow up by discussing and describing what each other understands and accepts. List the changes that both of you are willing to make to reach an agreement.

Consider the consequences of each of your behaviors; specify the consequences that may occur because of not changing your behavior. Let's consider a conflicting situation below:

Consider the consequences of each of your behaviors

Lyn and Jay are in a heated discussion. Lyn hates it when Jay stares at other women, or watches movies with nudity in the scenes. Lyn's perceptions are supported and verified. She is aware that these activities should not occur. Lyn has high standards, morals and values. Jay seems to think he is a normal man based on what society has taught him. He cannot verify this notion. Yet, Jay refuses to change. Lyn often becomes upset, and nags at Jay, trying to convince him that these activities hurt her feelings. She thinks he views women as sexual objects. What should Lyn do differently to persuade Jay that these activities are wrong?

Write - I would like you to tell me exactly what you think Lyn should do in this situation. Use the DESC Script to help you express your opinion. Then act to verify if your opinion is accurate and factual. Describe, specify and analyze the consequences of both partners' behaviors and move to describe what may occur. Try your best to explain how both Lyn and Jay may feel in the scene. Offer some advice that can help both of them learn and grow.

Aggressive responses

Next, we will consider some triggers that ignite your aggressive responses. Many people once triggered will react or respond to the situation under high volumes of stress levels. Our goal in this activity is to help you stop the thinking processes that cause you to react aggressively to triggers that upset you.

On that note, we will ask you to keep a daily record of your behavior that causes stress.

Write - In the next worksheet, write out your aggressive actions or comments followed by the situation that upset you and made you react that way. Give a detailed description of what the other person said or did to you that made you react aggressively. Express your feelings including anger, sadness, hurt, etc that resulted from the words or actions the other person displayed. Talk about your internal thoughts. Discuss any expressions or body language that resulted in you reacting aggressively.

Next, we will use some conflict imagery to guide you into building skills that will help you manage stress and deal with relationships more effectively.


We introduced you to Roark's DESC script. You worked through a set of conflicts in order to learn how to negotiate and resolve conflicts. You learned how to use constructive conflicts to help others learn and grow, and how to solve destructive conflicts.

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