DBT – Interpersonal Effectiveness, Part 3

Primary source for this post: DBT Skills Training Handbook and Worksheets, Second Edition, by Linehan, Marsha.  Copyright 2015

Ok!  I realize this is all probably starting to run together – I know it is for me, but let’s review our first 2 goals of Interpersonal Effectiveness, and how to better accomplish them.  Then I will cover our last goal.

#1 Goal Effectiveness – When making a request, asking a person to change their behavior, or trying to tell somebody no, we have:

D escribe the situation

E xpress your thoughts, ideas, ect.

A ssert by making your request, or saying no

R einforce by giving your reasons again, or explaining how this will be helpful in the long run

Being Mindful of your goal, Appearing Confident, and Negotiating will also help especially in difficult, highly emotional situations.  Don’t allow yourself to react to verbal threats or name calling – it’s not worth it!

#2 Relational Effectiveness

G entleness is important to implement, no matter who you are talking to.  A gentle answer turns away wrath…

I nterest – show genuine interest in the other person.  Look at things from their perspective

V alidate their opinion.  Listen to them, don’t interrupt, and show them respect.

E asy Manner  – Keep a calm, relaxed appearance.  I know it’s hard!  Just try to breath, and keep the bigger goal, of maintaining this relationship, in mind.


Today, we’ll discuss our last goal to keep in mind when communicating with another person.  None of these skills really come naturally to me, but this one hits home.  I like to please people.  Rather, I like to please myself by avoiding conflict!  Which is good – except when, out of fear of ridicule or pain, I allow myself to compromise my morals and convictions.  I don’t have to call something that’s wrong ‘right’, just because somebody else wants me to.  It’s dangerous to allow another human being to define your moral compass for you.  So in regard to our last goal of Self-Respect, and sticking to our values, remember FAST:

F – be Fair.  To yourself and the other person.  Don’t attack them, or beat yourself up over things and constantly mentally punish yourself.

A – don’t Apologize (unless you have legitimately wronged the other person – apologize when it is appropriate!) But if you are asking for help for a legitimate need, or if you are simply giving your own perspective on things, there is no need to apologize.  Some of us feel guilty just for existing.  Don’t give into that – it’s ok to ask for help, or be honest when you need to be, or to speak up for what is right, even if it inconveniences or angers other.

S – Stick to your values.  The most important relationship you have is the one you have between you and God.  And like Atticus Finch says, the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is your own conscience.

T – Be Truthful.  I lie very easily.

It’s true.  I HATE arguments, hate messy talks, hate ridicule.  Trust me, though – the pain is worth it.  It’s worth it to come away from a difficult encounter, feeling beaten up but knowing you didn’t compromise.  Bite the bullet.  Sometimes, I just have to clear my mind of all my fears, and just spit out my truthful words, before I can change my mind and think of a lie to tell!  Of course, the truth should be told IN LOVE, and your goal should be to ultimately build people up.  Truth can hurt, but it is the truth.


I hope this Interpersonal Effectiveness series has been helpful!  I really felt so relieved when I learned these in DBT, because it’s really communication 101.  Getting back to the basics, and rethinking your communication strategy never hurts!  Next week, we’ll discuss our last major DBT principle – Distress Tolerance.  I hope this series has been helpful, or at least minorly interesting!  It’s been fun for me to pull back the curtain on this mysterious thing called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy!


2 thoughts on “DBT – Interpersonal Effectiveness, Part 3

  1. This is so true! It is not easy being honest with our feelings, especially when the opposite party may not understand/feel threatened. I’ve had a lot of past toxic friendships that were ended when I was able to speak out about my feelings. Some of them, over time, healed and we were able to start up the friendship again on a healthier level. Some didn’t. I completely agree that pain is not fun when being honest, but it has a greater gain. We did not compromise. We stuck up for ourselves, and stood our ground. We showed others, we are gentle, but we need to be heard, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love how you worded that. I feel like someone who wants me to lie about who I am doesn’t really want to be friends with me; they want to be friends with something or someone else. That is painful to realize, but freeing too.

      Liked by 1 person

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