Interpersonal Effectiveness DBT Skills: The Complete List

Are you struggling with maintaining healthy relationships or effectively communicating your needs and boundaries? Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers a comprehensive module called “Interpersonal Effectiveness” to help individuals address these challenges. In this post, we’ll explore the Interpersonal Effectiveness skills in DBT, including Objective Effectiveness (DEAR MAN), Relationship Effectiveness (GIVE), and Self-Respect Effectiveness (FAST).

Person using Interpersonal Effectiveness DBT skills during work interaction

Understanding Interpersonal Effectiveness in DBT

Interpersonal Effectiveness is 1 of the 4 core modules within DBT, a therapeutic approach developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan to assist individuals in managing their emotions, particularly those with borderline personality disorder. These skills are designed to enhance your ability to navigate social situations, communicate effectively, and establish and maintain healthy relationships. For example, these skills can be used in a variety of situations. From work, personal relationships, or even more daunting situations such as asking for a promotion, or making a complaint.

Interpersonal Effectiveness skills empower you to strike a balance between your own needs and the needs of others, fostering a greater sense of well-being and satisfaction in your interactions. Let’s explore each of the key skill sets within the Interpersonal Effectiveness module:

Objective Effectiveness: DEAR MAN

DEAR MAN is an acronym that represents a set of skills aimed at achieving your objectives in interpersonal situations.

D – Describe: Start by describing the situation objectively, without judgment. Use facts to explain your perspective.

E – Express: Clearly express your feelings and opinions about the situation. Be honest and straightforward.

A – Assert: Assert your needs and boundaries confidently but respectfully. Let the other person know what you want or need from them.

R – Reinforce: Reinforce your point of view by explaining the positive consequences of meeting your request. Show how it can be a win-win situation.

M – Mindful: Stay mindful of your objectives and stick to them. Avoid getting sidetracked by unrelated issues.

A – Appear Confident: Maintain good eye contact, use a firm but not aggressive tone, and present yourself with confidence.

N – Negotiate: Be open to finding a compromise that benefits both parties. Willingness to negotiate can lead to more successful outcomes in your interactions.

Relationship Effectiveness: GIVE

GIVE is another acronym, focusing on maintaining healthy and balanced relationships:

G – Gentle: Approach the conversation with gentleness and kindness. Avoid being harsh or confrontational.

I – Interested: Show genuine interest in the other person’s perspective and feelings. Listening and being present in the moment is key.

V – Validate: Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and thoughts, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. Validation can go a long way in defusing conflicts.

E – Easy Manner: Maintain a relaxed and easygoing manner. Avoid being rigid or overly intense in your interactions.

Thinking about starting DBT? Learn more about our online DBT courses here.

Self-Respect Effectiveness: FAST

The FAST skills are about preserving your self-respect while communicating with others:

F – Fair: Be fair to yourself and the other person. Treat yourself and others with equity and respect.

A – Apologies: Avoid apologising excessively or for things that are not your fault. Only apologise when it’s genuinely necessary.

S – Stick to Values: Stay true to your core values and principles in your interactions. Don’t compromise on your principles for the sake of pleasing others.

T – Truthful: Be truthful in your communication. Honesty is essential for maintaining integrity in your relationships.


Developing Interpersonal Effectiveness is a journey, and it’s perfectly normal to face challenges along the way. The DBT skills mentioned above provide a valuable roadmap for improving your interactions and relationships. If you’re interested in learning more about DBT and how these Interpersonal Effectiveness skills can benefit you, consider enrolling in our DBT course, available both in-person and online.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or to learn more about how we can support you on your journey to better emotional regulation and healthier relationships. We’re here to help you unlock your full potential in the realm of Interpersonal Effectiveness.

About The Author

Picture of Ashleigh Wykes

Ashleigh Wykes

Accredited by the UK Association of Psychological Therapies, Ashleigh is our DBT lead and part of our outreach and mental health support team.

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