Troubleshooting IE Skills

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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.

Sometimes our interpersonal effectiveness skills just aren’t working. But why? There are a number of reasons that might be and that’s exactly what this skill is for. However, remember that the only person you can control in an interpersonal situation is yourself. You could be the most skillful you’ve ever been in your life and the other person might still not act how you want them to. Not everyone is at the same skill level as you are, even if they’re not in treatment or recovery. That being said, let’s discuss ways to troubleshoot your own skill use.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have the skills I need?
    1. This means reflect on whether you’re using the relevant skills and using them correctly.
  2. Do I know what I really want in this interaction?
    1. Reflect on your goals in the interaction. Are you undecided? Are you unsure of your priorities? Are you having trouble balancing your black-and-white thinking? Are emotions like fear or shame getting in the way?
  3. Are short-term goals getting in the way of long-term ones?
    1. Are you leading from emotion mind or from Wise Mind?
  4. Are my emotions getting in the way of using my skills?
    1. Are you at your skills breakdown point?
  5. Are myths, worries or assumptions getting in the way of my skills?
    1. Are you focusing on bad consequences?
    2. Are you thinking about how you don’t deserve whatever outcome you want?
    3. Are you stuck in a negativity loop of insulting yourself?
    4. Do I believe interpersonal effectiveness myths?
  6. Is there an environmental reason I can’t get what I want?
    1. Is there a power imbalance between yourself and whom you’re asking?
    2. Are other people in control of the situation?
    3. Will what I want hurt other people or cause them not to like me?