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Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal response patterns taught in DBT skills training are very similar to those taught in many assertiveness and interpersonal problem-solving classes. They include effective strategies for asking for what you want or need, saying no, and coping with interpersonal conflict.

You might even possess good interpersonal skills in a general sense, but the problems arise in the application of these skills to specific situations. You may be able to describe effective behaviors when discussing someone else's problems or situations, but may be completely incapable of coming up with or carrying out a similar behavior when viewing your own situation.

The interpersonal effectiveness module focuses on situations where the objective is to change something (e.g., requesting that someone do something) or to resist changes someone else is trying to make (e.g., saying no). The skills taught are intended to increase the chances of  your goals being met in a specific situation, while at the same time not damaging  the relationship or the your own self-respect.


DEARMAN – Use to get something you want or need. This builds self-respect through a sense of mastery.

Describe the situation using nonjudgmental statements.

Express feelings or opinions about the situation.

Assert yourself by asking clearly for what you want.

Reinforce people with a reward if you get what you want or if they respond positively to you.

Mindful of the situation by focusing on what you want and ignore distractions.

Appear Confident even if you don’t feel confident. Use a confident tone of voice and maintain eye contact.

Negotiate and offer or ask for alternative solutions (Turn the table). Give in order to get.


GIVE – Use to maintain relationship effectiveness.

Gentle: Use appropriate language, no verbal or physical attacks, no insults or threats, avoid sarcasm, and be courteous and nonjudgmental.

Interested: Be interested in the other person. Listen to the other person’s point of view, don’t interrupt, maintain eye contact, ask questions, etc. 

Validate: Acknowledge the other person’s feelings, wants, difficulties, and opinions about the situation. Be nonjudgmental out loud. Validation can be shown through words, body language and/or facial expressions.

Easy Manner: Be calm and light hearted during conversation, smile or use humor.


FAST – Use to maintain self-respect

Fair: Be fair to both yourself and the other person.

(No) Apologies: Don’t engage in over apologetic behavior. Don’t apologize for an opinion or for disagreeing. Only apologize when it is warranted.

Stick to Values: Don’t sell out your values or integrity to get to your objective or to keep a person liking you. Be clear about what you think or want and stand by what you believe in.

Truthful: Don’t lie, act helpless when you are not, or exaggerate. Lying erodes your self-respect and your relationships. Acting helpless is the opposite of building mastery.




​Skills are taught in the areas of MindfulnessInterpersonal EffectivenessEmotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance.
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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Module: Interpersonal Effectiveness?