Modulating Interpersonal Intensity
Interpersonal Effectiveness

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy‘s Interpersonal Effectiveness skills are designed to help you get what you need from your relationships while being respectful of yourself and others. Interpersonal relationships can be very challenging when you are also dealing with unstable emotions. Interpersonal interactions can be challenging. Before you make a request or say no, it is important to figure out how intense you should make your request or refusal. This DBT exercise will help you determine how to modulate the intensity you bring to your Interpersonal Effectiveness skills.

The following worksheet lists factors that affect each interpersonal interaction. The more factors you have in a situation, the more intense your request or refusal should be. The fewer factors the less intense your request or refusal should be.

Determining Intensity

Circle Yes or No for each of the factors below and then total the Yes’s or No’s.

This will give you the intensity rating that will help guide you in acting out what you would like to say.

If you are making a request, answer the questions labeled ‘asking’ and if you are refusing, answer the questions labeled ‘saying no.’ Do not answer both sets.


Objectives: are they very important? Increase intensity
Relationship: is it very tenuous? Consider reducing intensity
Self-respect: is it on the line? Intensity should fit values


Does the person have what you want? (asking) YES / NO
Do I have what the other person wants? (saying no) YES / NO


Is this a good time to ask? Is the other person in a good mood, paying attention, likely to say yes?(asking) YES / NO
Is this a bad time to say no? (saying no) YES / NO


Do I know all the facts? Is my goal clear? Is my request clear (asking) YES / NO
Is the other person’s request clear? (saying no) YES / NO


Is the other person required (by law or moral code) to give me what I want? (asking) YES / NO
Am I required to give this person what they are asking for? Does saying no violate their rights? (saying no) YES / NO


Is what I want appropriate to our relationship? (asking) YES / NO
Is this request appropriate to our relationship? (saying no) YES / NO


Have I done at least as much for the other person as I am requesting? Am I willing to give if the other person says yes? (asking) YES / NO
Does this person give me a lot? Do I owe this person? (saying no) YES / NO


Would being submissive result in peace now, but create problems in the long run? (asking) YES / NO
Is short term peace more important that the long term health of the relationship? (saying no) YES / NO


Am I careful to avoid acting helpless when this is not the case? Do I usually do things for myself? (asking) YES / NO
Will saying no result in me feeling badly about myself? Does Wise Mind say yes? (saying no) YES / NO

Add up your number of Yes’s and No’s and plug the number into the chart below.

Your sum for the above factors will determine the intensity rating that will help you to decide how to handle the particular situation that you find yourself in. If your intensity score is high, try and change the situation. If it is low, accept the situation as it is.

Total of YES for askingIntensity RatingTotal of NO for saying no
Ask firmly, insist6Refuse firmly, don’t give in
Ask firmly, resist no5Refuse firmly, resist giving in
Ask firmly, take no4Refuse firmly but reconsider
Ask tentatively, take no3Express unwillingness
Hint openly, take no2Express unwillingness but say yes
Hint indirectly, take no1Express hesitancy but say yes
Don’t ask, don’t hint0Do what they want without being asked

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