Interpersonal Effectiveness

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy’s Interpersonal Effectiveness skills are designed to help you get what you need from your relationships while being respectful to yourself and others. Interpersonal relationships can be very challenging when you are also dealing with unstable emotions. As a consequence, many of us struggle to maintain healthy relationships. This module will help you attend to your relationships.

The following skills will help you

  • Take care of your relationships
  • Balance your needs with others’ demands
  • Balance your “wants” with your “shoulds”
  • Build mastery and self-respect

Everyone has these skills to a certain extent. We are all at least somewhat able to ask for something or say no. For example, you might be able to say no to more water at a restaurant but not to a friend asking for a favor. Maybe you have these skills but aren’t sure when to use them. In order to sort out which skills to use and when to use them, you need to know what your goals are in a situation.

There are three types of goals:

  • Objective Effectiveness: obtain something you want
  • Relationship Effectiveness: maintain or improve a relationship
  • Self-Respect Effectiveness: maintain your self-respect

In most circumstances, you’ll have more than one goal in a situation. You may have all three. If the other person is important to you, you’ll want to maintain the relationship while obtaining something you want. And you’ll probably want to keep your self-respect in the process. The skills for each goal can be used simultaneously.

It is crucial to practice these skills. Practice them with your therapist. Practice them with strangers, with loved ones, with pets. If a situation arises where you can ask for something or say no, do so skillfully. If nothing arises, dream up a situation to practice. Go to a store and ask for something. Don’t wait for a situation where you can practice, actively search one out. DBT is learned by doing.

Objective Effectiveness: DEAR MAN

A script to help you get what you want out of an interaction.

Relationship Effectiveness: GIVE

An acronym to help you keep and deepen relationships.

Self-Respect Effectiveness: FAST

An acronym to help you stay true to yourself.

Myths About Interpersonal Effectiveness

Common interpersonal beliefs that aren’t accurate and how to combat them.

Interpersonal Cheerleading Statements

Positive interpersonal mantras for you to use.

Modulating Interpersonal Intensity

How to decide how intensely to ask for something or say no.

Factors Reducing Interpersonal Effectiveness

Blocks that might be behind your interpersonal struggles.


How to make others feel comfortable and secure.

Troubleshooting IE Skills

6 Questions to ask yourself when IE isn’t working. 

Skills for Finding Potential Friends

Steps to take to make new friends.

Mindfulness of Others

How to ensure you’re mindful of others.

How to End Relationships

Tips on how to end a relationship.

Additional Resources

Mental Health Resources
We aren't the only mental health resource out there. Check out these books, websites, social media accounts, and more for additional support. Read More
DBT Flashcards

Making DBT skills second nature takes practice. Use these flashcards on their page, download your own to print out, or purchase our pre-made set from our shop. Read More

DBT Encyclopedia

DBT has its own lingo which can be hard to understand for beginners. Visit our homemade DBT Encyclopedia to figure out what a term means. Read More

Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness practice is key to DBT. You don't have to meditate in silence everyday, though. Try these Mindfulness exercises to guide you. Read More

Diary Cards

Diary cards help track your emotions, urges, behaviors, and skill use. They help you see patterns. Learn how to use them and get samples. Read More


Need a little extra support?

Online DBT Courses provides online DBT group, self-paced DBT courses, and one-on-one DBT skills coaching from a DBT-trained therapist.  If you are interested in learning new DBT skills or need a little help getting the most out of DBT, we can help.
Online DBT