Interpersonal Effectiveness: what is it

Interpersonal Effectiveness in DBT refers to skills that help to: Attend to relationships. Balance priorities versus demands. Balance the ‘wants’ and ‘shoulds’ Build a sense of mastery and self-respect.


Attending to Relationships –

  • Don’t let problems build, if something is bothering you bring it up.
  • End toxic relationships/friendships
  • Resolve issues before they are blown out of proportion

Balance Priorities VS Demands –

  • If overwhelmed, put off the tasks that are of lower priority until less stressed.
  • Ask for help if you need it, it does not make you weak.
  • If you have too much free time, make structure and responsibilities.

Balancing the Wants VS Should’s –

  • Look at what you do because you want to and what you do because you have to. Try and make an equal balance of both.
  • Get your opinions taken seriously
  • Get others to do things for you. Don’t always be the one helping.

Building Mastery and Self-Respect –

  • Interact in a way that makes you feel competent and useful.
  • Stand up for yourself when necessary.

Goals for Interpersonal Effectiveness:

  • Objectives Effectiveness

[how to obtain your objectives of goals in a situation]

-Obtain your legitimate rights

-Accept help from others

– Refuse an event or favor if it is an unrealistic request.

-Resolve an interpersonal conflict

-Get your point of view taken seriously

  • Relationship Effectiveness

[getting/keeping a good relationship]

– Act in a manor to keep or get the other persons respect.

-Balance immediate goals with the good of the long-term relationship in mind.

  • Self-Respect Effectiveness

[getting and keeping a sense of self-respect]

-Respect your own wants and needs.

-Act in a way that makes you feel useful and capable.

Factors Reducing Interpersonal Effectiveness:

  • Lack of skill- you actually don’t know what to say or how to act. You don’t know how to get what you want.
  • Worry Thoughts- Get in the way of your ability to act effectively. Although the ability to achieve is there the worry thoughts interfere with ability to achieve.
  • Emotions- Get in the way of your ability to act effectively. Ability there but emotions get in the way.
  • Indecision- inability to make any decision or know what you actually want. (Asking for too much vs not asking for enough, saying no to everything vs not saying no to enough.)
  • Environment- Characteristics of environment make it difficult for anyone even those with the skills to achieve goals. (Others are to powerful, others will not like me)

Objectives for getting what you want:

(Acronym DEAR MAN)

  • Describe- current situation and tell the other person exactly what you are reacting to.
  • Express- your feelings and emotions on a situation
  • Assert- ask yourself for what you deserve. Say no clearly.
  • Reinforce- or reward the person ahead of time by explaining the consequences.
  • (stay)Mindful- keep focus on goals don’t get distracted.
  • Appear confident- Appear competent and knowledgeable. Use a confident tone and manner while keeping eye contact.
  • Negotiate- be willing and knowing of “you give to get” offer help but also accept help.

Objectives for keeping what you want: (GIVE)

  • Gentle- be courteous in approach, no attacks, no judging, and no threats.
  • (act)Interested- listen and be attentive and interested in other person.
  • Validate- acknowledge the others feelings while being non judgmental.
  • (Use an) Easy manner- use little humor, smile and ease the person along

Objectives for keeping self respect: (FAST)

  • (Be) Fair- be fair to self and others
  • (No) Apologies- don’t be overly apologetic.
  • Stick to Values- stick to your personal values and don’t sell out integrity for anything.
  • (Be) Truthful- don’t lie, act helpless, exaggerate and no excuses.

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