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#52: Interpersonal Effectiveness Overview

This episode is an overview of the core Interpersonal Effectiveness skills in DBT, focusing on clarifying objectives, DEAR MAN, GIVE, and FAST. 

There are a lot of acronyms in the Interpersonal Effectiveness module! Memorizing what each letter of the acronym stands for, especially DEAR MAN, can help you access the skill when you most need it. The best way to memorize the DEAR MAN script is to write it out again and again until you’ve mastered it.

Show Highlights

  • What’s most important in any given interaction: your objective, the relationship, or your self-respect?
    • Answering the above question will help you figure out which skills to use
  • DEAR MAN is the foundational script
  • GIVE is added if the relationship is the priority
  • FAST is added if self-respect is the priority
  • Be mindful of prioritizing relationships above all else if you’re prone to do that
  • You have a right to set limits, make requests, and say no
  • Before using any of these skills, check in with yourself and ask, “Am I in Wise Mind?”

DBT Skills Discussed

Ask us a Question

We’d love to hear from you! Where are you getting stuck with your skills application? Ask us a question for the chance to have it answered on the podcast. Submit your question here.

Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment. 


#52: Interpersonal Effectiveness Overview Transcript 

Marielle Berg 

Hello and welcome to the Skillful Podcast where we explore DBT and RO-DBT skills to help you reduce emotional suffering, improve your relationships, and become more present in your life. I’m your host, Marielle Berg, a psychotherapist at the Bay Area DBT & Couples Counseling Center.

Marielle Berg 

Hi, Ed. It’s been a long time since we’ve recorded together.

Ed Fowler 

Yes, it has. We, um, it was fun to to get back in the virtual booth as it were. Dust off the microphones and get back to this.

Ed Fowler 

And I know for you the podcast is sometimes a bit of Opposite Action. And for me, it’s Accumulating Positive Emotions because I enjoy this kind of thing. So it’s really nice to be back.

Marielle Berg 

Yes, yes, I’m a little nervous because I feel rusty. So I’m practicing some of my Opposite Action to throw myself back into podcasting. And I know, once we get going, it usually flows pretty seamlessly. But that’s just where I am right now after being away for a while. And I just want to acknowledge also to our listeners who continue to reach out to us and let us know how much the podcast is meaningful to them, that we had every intention at some point last year of becoming more regular, and that did not happen for a variety of reasons. And so we are feeling refreshed and renewed and ready to put out some more regular episodes so people can continue to benefit.

Marielle Berg 

I’m so envious. So when you say that, like I wish it was that for me, I think but I have other benefits. I Build Mastery. So there.

Ed Fowler 

There you go. Yes.

Marielle Berg 

That’s a good one, yeah.

Ed Fowler 

And as I said, before we started, I’m not nervous, and nine times out of 10, that’s, that works out just fine. One time out of 10, I turn out to be pretty rusty, much rustier than I thought. So we’ll see how this goes,

Marielle Berg 

We’ll see.

Ed Fowler 

So we thought about covering the overview of Interpersonal Effectiveness, because we’ve talked about each of the individual skills. And we thought it might be nice to look at what are our goals in Interpersonal Effectiveness, and go through some of the main skills, which are a lot of acronyms. So for those who have been familiar with the DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness skills, this is your pop quiz on, can you remember all the acronyms? And it is a quiz for Marielle and I as well.

Marielle Berg  

But we are cheating on our quiz, because we have our books.

Ed Fowler 

We have, we have open book and you can too.

Marielle Berg 

I mostly have them memorized, but there are times when I get a little tripped up. What does that letter stand for? But before we even go into all the acronyms, let’s, let’s do an overview of how we think about what our goals are, in any situation with another person. And I think this framework is very useful, because a lot of times when we are in some kind of conflict with someone, or, you know, we need to ask for something, and that is scary for us. We want to get our opinions taken seriously. I mean, there’s a whole host of things that could be happening in any interpersonal situation. And it can just feel very overwhelming. We have a lot of emotions, and we have fears and concerns, and we have, maybe history that comes up like oh, that time it didn’t go well. And so just beginning to orient ourselves to these three different goals that are laid out in DBT, can be very helpful. It can help us get grounded and say, Okay, what’s most important in this interaction I want to have with someone?

Ed Fowler 

This is one of the things I really appreciate about the approach to Interpersonal Effectiveness in DBT is like having this framework of, these are the things to think about, and sort out and prioritize as you approach a conversation where you need to ask for something or say no to something or try to get your opinion heard.

Ed Fowler 

And so the three areas that we want to consider are our objective, what it is we want to achieve in the conversation; our relationship, how we want the relationship to go after the conversation; and our self respect how we want to feel about our self respect after the conversation.

Marielle Berg 

And let’s unpack each of those. So I’ll start with our objective. And so our objective is really just about getting what you want from the other person. It’s not so much about your relationship or about your self respect. So some common objectives that can come up on are obtaining your legitimate rights, getting another person to do something you want them to do, so influencing another person to do something that’s important to you, saying no to requests that you don’t want, resolving any kind of conflict with someone else, and potentially getting your opinion or point of view taken seriously.

Marielle Berg 

So we would we put that all under the heading of objectives: effectiveness. And some questions to ask yourself to figure out like, is the objective really what matters most here are: what specific results or changes do I want from this interaction? And what do I have to do to get the results, what will work? So notice in these questions, there’s nothing about the relationship, or about how we might feel about ourselves, once it’s over. It’s really just focused on the specific results or change that we want and being as effective as we can with that, or in in communicating that.

Ed Fowler 

And with any important interaction, we’re going to need to have a goal and objective that we want to achieve, what’s the point of having this interaction. At the same time, we’re also going to want to be thinking about the relationship, both maintaining and also possibly improving our relationship as we try to meet our objective. So we’re always going to have an objective, we also want to think about the relationship itself.

Ed Fowler 

And so the things that we might think about are: making sure that we’re acting in a way during the interaction that keeps the person liking and respecting us, so acting in a way where the person will still respect us when we’re done; really trying to be conscious of balancing short term goals and long term goals, especially long term goals in the relationship itself, so I might need someone to do me a favor, and I also want to be thoughtful about the long term health of the relationship, not just whether I get their favor or not; and really making sure that we’re putting effort into maintaining the relationships that matter to us.

Ed Fowler 

And the question that I like to ask when considering the relationship and relationship goals in the interaction is: How do I want the other person to feel about me after the interaction, whether or not I get my objective met? So whether or not they do me the favor whether or not they accept my no whether or not they listen to my opinion, how do I want them to feel about me? And this can be a helpful guide.

Marielle Berg 

And another question to ask is, what do I have to do to get or keep this relationship? But I have many kind of asterisks, I want to put by that one. Because if you are someone who tends to prioritize relationships above all else, pretty consistently, above your objectives, above your self respect, you just want to be on the lookout for that. Because your tendency might be to overly focus on what you need to do to get or keep this relationship, which which will backfire in the end. Your self respect will go down, there’ll be growing resentment, other things can happen.

Marielle Berg 

For other people, who tend to perhaps overly focus on their self respect, which we’ll talk about in a moment, that might be the question, (what do I have to do to get or keep this relationship) might actually be really useful to keep in mind, because it might not be something that comes as naturally. You might be super focused on your objective and forget, like, Wait, this is actually a good friend, I want to make this request in a way that will keep this relationship going strongly.

Ed Fowler 

In any important interaction, we are going to need to balance all three of these things, the objective, the relationship, and then also our self respect. And as you said, Marielle, for some of us, we will tend to reduce our emphasis on the objective or our self respect, because we kind of habitually prioritize the relationship, even if it means we don’t get what we want. And for other people, we might put a lot of emphasis on our self respect, feeling okay about ourselves, which may damage relationships, and so we want to be conscious of that.

Ed Fowler 

So the third priority to think about is our self respect. So making sure that we’re considering, respecting our own values and beliefs, acting in a way that makes us feel moral, and acting in a way that feels capable and effective. Being able to feel positively about ourselves after an interpersonal interaction. And so like with the relationship, the question we want to ask as we go into the interaction is: How do I want to feel about myself when this interaction is over, whether I get my objective or not?

Marielle Berg 

And another question is: What do I have to do to feel that way about myself? What will work? Like, how can I show up, so I will feel like my self respect is intact when this interaction is over. And when we are in Emotion Mind, like we mustn’t say all, probably all, but I don’t know, there might be exceptions. But most of us, this goes out the window, you don’t think about it, we don’t care about it. That’s when we say the angry thing, maybe we call someone names. Yeah, that’s when we kind of play dirty. And afterwards, it feels awful. Self respect really plummets, shame goes up. It’s a really challenging loop. And so when you’re doing any kind of Interpersonal Effectiveness skills, in DBT, you really want to have your Wise Mind on board. So that’s maybe where we should have started, we need Wise Mind.

Ed Fowler 

It’s interesting, because I was thinking the same thing. It’s like, all of the Interpersonal Effectiveness skills in DBT require us to be in our Wise Mind. And I think that this approach in DBT is about being thoughtful about our interactions, not just making requests, or saying no on the fly without thinking, which we have to do sometimes. Sometimes, if somebody asks a question, we just have to say yes or no, right in the moment. With important situations, important goals of ours, important relationships, we want to put effort into thinking things through. And so that’s where clarifying what are our priorities for this particular interaction? Is my objective and getting my objective, the most important priority, or is building and maintaining the relationship the most important, which means I might not put as much emphasis on the objective, because I want to think about the long term relationship, or is maintaining my self respect the most important? I want to make sure that I feel effective, and okay about myself afterwards.

Ed Fowler 

So when we’re going into an interaction, that’s important, we want to step back, access our Wise Mind and think through, okay, what’s my objective? How do I want the other person to feel about me after this interaction? How do I want to feel about myself? Make an effort to think about which of those is the most important, because that will guide what skills do we use to approach the interactions,

Marielle Berg 

Yes, it guides, like what we emphasize, what we might deemphasize, I don’t know if I already said this. So we did, I’m just gonna say it again, because I think it’s that important. In all interactions with someone else, all three things matter, our objective, the relationship and our self respect. But this framework is asking us to pick out the one, or identify the one that seems the most important, because it will, if it will impact the kind of skills that you use.

Marielle Berg 

And, you know, an easy example, or at least example that comes to mind for me quickly is if you need to ask your landlord for your deposit back. So that might be we might all be pretty clear, like, okay, that’s the objective, that you know, unless your landlord is also your best friend, it’s, you know, the most important thing here is, you know, getting you say your legitimate rights. So that that one seems pretty clear. And we might think, well, who cares about the relationship or our self respect? And this is my you know, in all interactions, all three things matter. Because you can ask for that deposit back in such a way that you’re going to feel pretty poorly about yourself afterwards. If you raise your voice, if you do something, or say something that makes you feel less competent, or weak or small. You know, there’s probably other ways that one could compromise their self respect in requesting this. And the relationship, we want to be mindful that there is a relationship there, even if it’s primarily transactional, and not a very involved relationship. But what if you need that landlord’s recommendation for your next place? Or something else? So we don’t know. But so keeping in mind that they all matter, in one way or another, but usually we can identify one that’s the top priority.

Ed Fowler 

And it’s funny because I have rented many places and mostly it’s like, okay, once the once I’ve moved out, the relationship is over. And I wanted to move into a place that I really, really liked. And the new landlord was like, okay, I need references from your previous landlords and I thought, thank god I

Marielle Berg 

Right?

Ed Fowler 

maintain those relationships in a positive way, because I probably wouldn’t have gotten, there were other people that wanted it, I wouldn’t have gotten that apartment, if I wasn’t able to, like call up a former landlord, who felt positively about the way we ended things.

Marielle Berg 

So yes, these things really can make a big difference.

Ed Fowler 

And we never know when our self respect or the relationship is going to be important down the line, which is why we consider all three, we consider we name to ourselves, okay, what’s my, my objective? How do I want the person to feel? How do I want to feel? And then we choose our priorities. And the reason why we choose our priorities in this DBT framework is because that will guide what approach do we take, which which skill do we use? So when the objective is the highest priority? We’re going to use the DEAR MAN approach.

Marielle Berg 

I’m going to build that out a little bit. Yes, that’s, we use a DEAR MAN approach when our objective is the most important thing. And I think I’ve begun to think of it that we use DEAR MAN in all our interactions. But we add certain things to the basic DEAR MAN script, if relationship is the top priority or self respect. So is that just kind of like maybe a different way of thinking about it.

Ed Fowler 

Yes, yeah. Because the, if the objective is most important, straightforward DEAR MAN. And if the relationships important if the self respect is important, then we’re still going to use the DEAR MAN, and we’ll bring qualities to it that will help it achieve our relationship goal or self respect goal.

Marielle Berg 

Let’s, let’s focus on the the DEAR portion first. And this is actually especially in the beginning, this is actually a script that we encourage you to write out, which might seem like a pain, let’s just spend a little bit of time thinking ahead and going through each letter of the acronym, it will really help organize your thoughts. And I think when you go into the exchange, you’re going to feel so much more competent, and really, hopefully increase the likelihood that the interaction is going to go well.

Marielle Berg 

So the first one, the D is for Describe. We don’t always need to do this, if you want to, or I’d say once you become more adept at doing DEAR MANs, and you don’t need to sit down and kind of write a script out every time, you’ll, you’ll be able to do it a bit more on the fly. And when you are doing it more on the fly, you may not necessarily need to do the D, which is describing the current situation. You want to stick to the facts, and tell the person exactly what you are reacting to. So if you’re in the middle of a conversation, you may not need to do that. It’s very clear. You’re you know, having an argument with your roommate about whose turn it was to take out the garbage. You know, so you don’t have to necessarily introduce it by saying I really want to talk to you about, you know, when we take out the garbage, it’s clear.

Marielle Berg 

But other times, if you’ve sat down beforehand and written out the script, again, which we strongly advise you do. You would say, hey, roomie, do you have a moment, I want to talk to you about how we take out the garbage or what our plan is for this. So you’re letting the other person know, instead of sort of just like, you know, ambushing them, like I want to talk about this, you’re orienting them to that. And that’s a moment where you can also ascertain whether or not they’re available. They might say you know what, I can’t right now I’m running out to work, whatever it might be, can we talk about it later. But the D is describe.

Ed Fowler 

And as you’re describing the Describe, I’m thinking about how much I like this framework, because it really does, it’s such an effective way to communicate, because so often, it’s really helpful to say, Hey, I would like to talk to you about this specific thing. And that gets the person ready to hear the rest of the DEAR of what you want to say.

Ed Fowler 

Which then the next letter in the dear acronym is Express. So express your feelings or and or opinions about the situation. Don’t assume that the other person knows how you feel. I think this is so important. Because oftentimes, we can go in thinking, like, well, obviously they know I’m frustrated about the way that they don’t take out the garbage. They might not know at all, that might be part of the problem, they’re not noticing that right. And so we want to express how do I feel? So that they’re, they’re clear about where we are coming from. And so in this example of asking a roommate, to be more consistent taking out the garbage, we might say, like I feel really frustrated, because we agreed that you would do it on these specific days and you haven’t done it. And that gets frustrating and makes me you know, feel stressed in the place that we share.

Marielle Berg 

Yeah. And then the Assert, oh, I’ll just say a couple of things about the Express. We don’t want to be use any kind of language that might put the person on the defensive. And so even when you said your Express, and I don’t know if I was feeling overly sensitive, but I was like, ooh, is that gonna make the roommate defensive, like you said. So, I don’t know, it depends on what kind of relationship you have with your roommate, I think it’s very direct, which is great. And just something to think about and choosing your words. Because we want to stay away, especially from like, you know, the you should, or you shouldn’t kind of things, it will put the other person definitely on the defensive, and they’re going to want to attack back or say, Well, you know, I did do it last week, or so, you know, kind of point out how it’s wrong, because they will feel, they’ll feel attacked it will put them on the defensive. So when you Express you want to just talk about how you’re feeling. And I really liked that, like I’m frustrated.

Ed Fowler 

And I think it’s an opportunity to practice nonjudgmentalness. So that rather than saying, you always, you never, I’m so infuriated, and it’s like disgusting to me that is like, Oh, I feel frustrated, using I statements and something brief. And just expressing a bit about how you feel, conscientious of, we need to express how we feel, we want them to know, it’s important. And we want to be conscientious of not inflaming the situation with judgmental language that makes it harder to hear us.

Marielle Berg 

And as we’re talking about this, I’m imagining situations in the past. I don’t know if I exactly said these things. Although I would not have been surprised if I had before I was more skillful. But I have definitely thought them like, this garbage is disgusting, what’s wrong with you, can’t you see how much it smells? Who would leave it sitting here for weeks? Things like that. Okay, and we all know, those conversations will go.

Marielle Berg 

Okay, the A is Assert, and I have heard so many people’s beautiful DEAR MANs where the assert goes wonky, where it is not clear what the person is asking for. And then the other person doesn’t really know how to respond. So you want to be really clear in Assert, which you can also think of, as an Ask. This is where you directly ask for what you want or you directly say no. We don’t want to assume that people will just get it from what we just expressed, with in terms of our emotions, that people are just going to intuit it. It would be nice, if they did, but that doesn’t happen a lot of the time. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, or they’re not paying attention. But we need to directly ask or say no, others cannot read our minds. So an ask here could be I would really like it if we could stick to our agreed upon schedule about taking the trash out.

Ed Fowler 

Right. And I do think this is where sometimes we find that we’re not effective is because we haven’t been clear on what we’re asking for. And this the DEAR MAN is requires some thinking ahead. Until you’re fluid enough with that you can do it more on the spot. It requires thinking ahead to think what specifically am I asking for? Quit being so rude about the trash? That’s not a specific ask? Right? I would like to stick to the schedule where you take out the trash on Mondays and Thursdays or whatever. And so be specific and concrete. Ask for things that are actionable if you need to say no be specific about why you’re saying no. And one of the things when we get to self respect. Like we don’t have to give all the details but just be able to say I’m saying no, and this is why. Something concrete.

Ed Fowler 

 And then the last letter in the DEAR. So if you’ve been following along, I don’t know how you’re doing on your pop quiz, trying to remember what each letter of the acronym stands for. But the last letter the R stands for Reinforce. And what we mean by that is Reinforce what’s in it for the other person to do what you’re asking them to do. It’s not Reinforce what you’re asserting or asking for. It’s reinforcing what’s in it for them if they give you what you’re asking for, or if they accept the no that you’re giving.

Ed Fowler 

I think this is one of the brilliant parts of the DEAR format is people are so much more open to doing what you ask if you give them a little bit of why it benefits them too. You don’t have to rely on them being nice or being understanding. But you can just say like, if you do this, then this positive thing will happen for you. If you accept my no, this positive thing will happen for you. And I think it’s always helpful to emphasize the positive. So here’s a reward you will get if you give me what I’m asking for. But sometimes we do have to reinforce some consequences. Like if you don’t do this, then this negative thing will happen. I try very hard to avoid that as much as possible. People respond in general, more to positive than to negative. Um, more to reward them to consequence. Sometimes we have to say, well, and this is the reality is we’re at the point where there will be this negative consequence. But that’s part of Reinforcing, why it’s worth it to them to give you what you’re asking.

Marielle Berg 

And in this example it could be something as simple as, you know, I think we’d get along better as roommates, if, you know, if we can each agree to stick to the schedule. Or, I think, you know, our household would run more smoothly or something like that.

Ed Fowler 

Or it will smell less in here or whatever, right? But and that’s where I think that sitting down and thinking that DEAR script through is so valuable. And I think Marielle and I are both going to emphasize this a lot. Because when I’m talking to people, and they’re like, Yeah, I did a DEAR MAN, like, did you really think it through? And so if you’re not getting what you want, probably, like really thinking the DEAR through and thinking about okay, what specifically am I asking for? And what’s in it for them to give it to me? What specifically do I want to say no to and what’s in it for them to accept that? That’s going to go a really long way.

Ed Fowler 

And my experience has been, when I really think a DEAR through in important situations, most of the time, people are like, Oh, okay, great. Yes, I’ll do that. Because they just it’s, they feel heard they feel respected. It’s clear what I’m asking for, it’s clear why to do it. And more often than not, that’s enough for a person who say, Sure.

Marielle Berg 

I’ll also add that I have sat down at times to do a DEAR, and realized I was I was still kind of upset about something about my, you know, distress level, what we would refer to with SUDs, subjective units of distress, were too high. And I may not have realized that or know I haven’t realized that at times, until I’ve sat down and did the DEAR. And I’m like, wait a minute, I think I need a little more time, I need to do some Distress Tolerance skills, because I have a lot of emotions that are coming up, as I’m thinking about this. So again, if that happens, you know, take your time, get into Wise Mind and then come back to it.

Marielle Berg 

And so the the MAN part, which I think we’re ready to move on to, is more about certain qualities, so not so much a script you’d write out, although you could certainly jot down notes on how you’re going to try to do these things, but qualities or tactics to use when you’re delivering your DEAR.

Marielle Berg 

So the first one, the M is for Stay Mindful, which has two components, Broken Record, and Ignore Attacks. So when you’re staying mindful, you want to focus on your goals, you don’t want to get distracted, you do not want to get off topic, and that is so easy to have happen. Because if you bring something up and the other person feels defensive, they’ll say like with the garbage thing, well, but you know, I did the dishes, or, you know, I did take it out last week, or what about the thing you didn’t do, if that happens, you want to try the broken record technique where you just keep asking or saying no, or expressing your opinion over and over.

Marielle Berg 

So you want to just keep saying the same thing again, and again. If you respond to the comments that are off topic, it will be so hard to get back to the original thing. And things will just go in a totally different direction. And related to this also ignoring attacks, if the other person attacks, threatens, or just tries to change the subject in another way, or you know, you’re so blah, blah, blah, you know, whatever. Well, you didn’t tell me that my mom called the other day or whatever thing maybe that you didn’t do, that your roommate wanted you to do. Don’t respond. I know it is super hard. You want to try to ignore the distractions, and keep making your point. I would still really like it if we would stick to our, you know, taking out the garbage schedule.

Marielle Berg 

And you can say, and I know I’ve certainly have certainly said this, because I don’t want to feel like I’m invalidating the other person, especially if they’re bringing up something that like, yeah, I didn’t do the dishes or whatever thing that may be I know, I dropped the ball on, well say, you know, you’re right. That is something that I think we should talk about. But can we come back to that? Can we just stick with this issue right now so we can resolve it? So you’re acknowledging to the other person, yes, we can come back to that. But now isn’t the time.

Ed Fowler 

And I do think that being able to go in knowing you’re going to reiterate your assertion if you need to, and then you can just be fluid with it. So if the person says, Well, what about how you don’t do the dishes? Like I hear that and I definitely think we need to talk about that, before we do can we talk about taking out the trash on the schedule we set. Well, but I you know, took it out two weeks ago. And I appreciate that. But I want to talk about keeping to the schedule that we set. And that’s where I think it’s like, we’re not getting pulled off track and we can do it, you know, practice doing it fluidly. so that it’s not like, can we stick to the schedule? Can we stick to the schedule? But at the same time, it’s like, we’re really just going to keep saying that.

Ed Fowler 

And I have seen people say, Why do you keep repeating that? It’s like, because it’s important, I want to talk about, can we stick to the schedule, we’re not giving people away.

Marielle Berg 

Yeah.

Ed Fowler 

And then the second part of trying to stay mindful of our goals is ignoring attacks. So that even if the attacks get really personal, even if the person puts a lot of effort into taking us out of the topic we want to discuss, we don’t take the bait and say, Well, you never, and I’m so sick of this. We don’t let it get our distress level up, we just kind of very gently come back to the broken record of like, I hear that and I want to talk about this. Well, I don’t want to get into personal attacks, I want to talk about the garbage.

Ed Fowler 

And so we’re not taking the bait with any attacks that might come. And so then in the MAN acronym of how we do the DEAR, the second letter is A for Appear Confident. And this goes a long way as well. Like if we need to ask for something or say no, and we’re really tentative, if we’re apologetic, like, the other person is not going to hear us in the same way as if we go in appearing effective and competent. Like, use a confident voice tone, make eye contact, stand up straight, or sit up straight.

Ed Fowler 

Really, this is a bit of Opposite Action, especially if you’re feeling nervous or unsure. Just go in saying I have a right to make this request, I have a right to say no. And I’m going to come from that place and Appear Confident, because people will respond to that. If we look like Hey, I am very secure in having this conversation, they’re going to be less likely to try to take us off track. Whereas if it’s like, oh, can I talk to you, um, I don’t want to bother you, they’re gonna be like, You know what, this isn’t a good time, right? And so we want to say, I need to talk to you and appear confident.

Marielle Berg 

It impacts the other person in a positive way. And it also impacts us positively. Because when we Appear Confident, or we’re kind of like fake it, we start to feel it more. So that you know, then we start to feel more entitled to our requests, or just staying sticking with our no. So it has these kind of, you know, double positive impacts.

Marielle Berg 

And then the last one, and don’t jump to this one right away, if you tend to, you know, cave, maybe more easily, there’s probably a less judgmental way of saying that you tend to give in, or you know, not advocate for your needs very quickly. Don’t jump to Negotiate, but that’s the N. We do need Negotiate at times. So just because you do a beautiful DEAR with, you know, the Mindful and Appearing Confident, doesn’t mean that the other person is just gonna say, okay, of course.

Marielle Berg 

So negotiate, being willing to give to get. You can think about potentially reducing your request. But if you know that you’re someone who tends to go to that quickly, don’t make that the first thing that you offer, you can ask for other solutions to the problem. You might say no, but offer to do something else or solve the problem another way, and focusing on what will work. So with the garbage example, if the roommate says, I know agreed to take it out on XYZ nights, but I really just can’t on those nights because I get home too late from work or whatever it might be. But that could be a point of negotiation. Okay, would these nights, or these nights work? Or is there some other way we can split up house chores?

Marielle Berg 

You can also try turning the table, where you turn the problem over to the other person, and you ask them for solutions. And I like this, especially with intimate couples, where you say some, you kind of make it like a “we” problem. What do you think we should do? So it’s not just like, I’m having the problem. But we’re a couple, this thing is bothering me. If it’s bothering me, it’s also bothering you know, it’s creating a problem. It’s it has to also bother you to a certain extent, you can’t sort of be like, well, that’s your problem. So what do you think we should do? How can we solve this together? That’s that’s Turn the Tables.

Ed Fowler 

And I think it is helpful if the other person is arguing and not going with what you’re saying, then I think a really nice negotiation tactic is what do you think we should do then? You’re not saying, well, I guess this isn’t going to be worked out, or well, let me think about and I’ll come back with more solutions. Like what do you think? And I’ve seen this so many times where, especially in families or couples, where people are just really used to the dynamic where, if I stonewall you then I can get out of doing what you’re asking me. And we want to be able to say no, you can’t, so what do you think we should do, it’s not an option for me to just give up on this.

Ed Fowler 

And people, and that’s where the DEAR MAN approach tends to be effective. People tend to go with that as like okay, well, I guess I have to think of an alternative.

Ed Fowler 

So summarizing the DEAR MAN: Describe what it is you want to talk about, Express your feelings, Assert what you want clearly, Reinforce what’s in it for the other person to give it to you, and do all of that while staying Mindful of your goals and not getting caught off track, Appearing confident, and Negotiating when necessary.

Marielle Berg 

All so easy, piece of cake.

Ed Fowler 

There we go.

Marielle Berg 

As we’re going through this, and maybe because it’s a time of day we’re were recording and the day it’s Friday, late afternoon. I’m like, wow, that’s a lot. And it is. It really is. I think it can make such a difference. But especially when you’re new to it, it’s a lot of different components. And it will get easier over time.

Ed Fowler 

I am such a strong proponent of this, because like so many people, I was like, okay, yeah, yeah, DEAR MAN, I guess. But when I’ve used it, like, oh, that worked. And then I do it again. Oh, that worked. And so like, this is my go to if I have to say something important, I’m going to be doing a DEAR. Because most of the time, it actually does work pretty effectively.

Marielle Berg 

That’s reinforcing, cause you have this positive experience.

Ed Fowler 

Exactly, yes.

Marielle Berg 

Shall we move on to GIVE for when we’ve determined that the relationship is the number one priority?

Ed Fowler 

So when we know that maintaining and building the relationship is a high priority, maybe even higher than achieving our objective, than we want to take an approach that basically is going to soften the ask, and really make clear that we’re listening to the other person and not just demanding. And so the acronym for the qualities that we will bring to the DEAR that will help prioritize the relationship is GIVE.

Ed Fowler 

So as Marielle said earlier, we’re always going to use the DEAR script when we’re trying to ask for something or say no. When the relationship is the highest priority, we’re going to use the GIVE skill. And the G in give is be Gentle. So a gentle approach versus a really firm demanding approach. So trying very hard to be nice, be respectful, not making any threats or attacks, being very careful not to be judgmental. So that we’re really trying to take a gentle versus a hard demanding, and especially aggressive approach. That’s not going to work to maintain the relationship after the conversation is over.

Marielle Berg 

Yeah, and with that, we want to be careful about staying away from saying things that might be received as manipulative, or like kind of, you’re issuing a hidden threat. So if you have to describe painful consequences for not getting what you want, you want to describe them really calmly, without exaggeration, with no threats in there. Because that will, you know, those conversations usually go off the rails. So yeah, this is something definitely to bring to your individual therapist, if if you feel like you struggle with describing painful consequences in ways that won’t be received as manipulative.

Marielle Berg 

And so when again, in order to do this, you have to be in Wise Mind. Tolerate a no, so freaking hard at times. Allow the other person to say no. Remember, that doesn’t always mean it’s the end of the conversation. Sometimes there’s a more negotiation that can happen. But tolerate a no, stay in the discussion, even if it starts to get painful. And when the time is right, exit gracefully. You know, not with a slamming door, clearly you don’t care about me, or you know, whatever thing you might do.

Marielle Berg 

And the general theme of all this the no attacks, threats, judging, or sneering is all around being gentle. Because that’s really important when our relationships matter the most. With the example we were talking about with the roommate and the garbage, you could do a very different DEAR MAN with a roommate who is just, you have just a transactional relationship. You didn’t really know each other before, you probably won’t stay in touch when you’re no longer roommates, but it just works for you for the time being to be sharing housing together, versus being roommates with someone who was actually like your best friend before you moved in or someone who you’ve grown to become very close to and you hope that you’ll maintain a close friendship. That’s you know, then you would want to do a DEAR MAN and bring in a fair amount of this GIVE. Right?

Ed Fowler 

So then the second letter in the GIVE acronym is act Interested. So the I stands for Interested. So really try to make sure the other person knows that you’re listening and that you are paying attention, you’re taking them seriously. You’re really trying to make an effort to hear their point of view. So it’s a little different, where you’re not so much, like you’re delivering your DEAR. But you’re really leaving open to hear them. What do they think, where are they coming from? Making a lot of effort not to interrupt and talk over the person. And be very conscientious, part of acting interested as being conscientious of timing. Is this a good time for you to talk? So rather than, hey, I want to talk to you about the garbage, like, I want to talk to you about the garbage, is this a good time? So we’re really putting more emphasis on on being interested in making sure that the other person knows were paying attention to them.

Marielle Berg 

And then the V in the GIVE is Validate. So with words and actions, you want to show that you get and understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings about the situation. You can also think of it as trying to see the world from the other person’s point of view, kind of trying to step into their shoes for a moment. And we did a whole episode, I’m pretty sure on validation. And we can do you know, we could do more on this, we could do you know, invalidation and self validation, there’s a lot about validation to talk about that.

Marielle Berg 

You know, so validation goes so far in relationships, it makes such a difference. And what we’re doing when we’re validating is letting the other person know that you understand them, you get them, you know, with the garbage thing, you could say like, I see, roomie, how busy you are. You know, I see how much you’re juggling or just you know, how frazzled you might be, or whatever it is, or how much you know, and how much you hate doing this task.

Ed Fowler 

Right.

Marielle Berg 

Which doesn’t mean that they don’t have to do the task anymore. But I think it feels good to all of us when we feel seen and understood.

Ed Fowler 

Right. And that’s where I think that really trying to make an effort to think about the other person’s point of view before you even go into the conversation. And make clear that you are thinking about that. So saying, I know this is something that you don’t like to do, or I know you’ve tried really hard or I know that in the past, you’re really on top of this. And since you’ve had all these struggles at work, it’s been harder, I get that I still want to talk about taking out the garbage. So we’re really putting an effort into like making sure we’re demonstrating in our words and our actions that we’re understanding the other person’s perspective, and taking that equally seriously to our own. This is not as necessary in more transactional interactions. But in important relationships, this is critical.

Marielle Berg 

And also when we’re doing this, when we’re validating, with, you know, someone we care about, and we’re assuming that so you’re validating with because we’re talking about the GIVE skill, so the relationship is your number one priority, it also really can soften or open your own heart. So even if you’re quite frustrated at the person, when you can validate when you can step into their shoes for a moment and kind of see like, oh, from their perspective, from what I know about them, either currently, or from the past, I could see why this might be hard, or why they might bristle at this. And that can really bring down any kind of resentment or animosity we might be holding towards the other person. So there’s a a double, you know, positive impact here potentially.

Ed Fowler 

Definitely. And then the last letter of the give acronym is E for Easy manner. So bring it an easy manner to the conversation. Using humor, smiling, the soft sell over the hard sell. So really, I find this to be really helpful in important relationships, if there’s a big difference between “I need to talk to you about the garbage,” and “Okay, I know I’ve said it before, and please bear with me. But do you want to guess I’m going to talk about the garbage again.” There’s a real difference between those. And so when you can bring in that easy manner. It’s going to help bring down the intensity, bring down the tension, be able to kind of laugh at like, I know, I get so worked up about the garbage, and this is important to me. So that we’re really kind of communicating that like this is not a huge deal. That’s very intense, because those conversations, people are going to be more defensive and they may feel like oh my god, I hate having to talk to them about difficult things because it’s always so intense. We want to try to bring this easier approach.

Marielle Berg 

Yeah, so that that’s our GIVE skill.

Ed Fowler 

So we’ve talked about the DEAR MAN for when the objective is important. And the DEAR script is something we use no matter what. GIVE helps when the relationship is really important. When our self respect and maintaining our self respect is really important, we use the acronym FAST. And wanting to make sure that we’re conscientious of maintaining our self respect. So these are qualities we bring to the DEAR MAN. So that F in FAST stands for be Fair. To be fair to yourself and to the other person, to both, right? Make sure, especially when your self respect is important, that you’re validating yourself. You’re validating your own feelings and opinions and desires, that you’re prioritizing what’s important to you. And for people who struggle to, you know, speak up for themselves. Be fair to yourself by giving yourself as much validation as you would give to someone else.

Marielle Berg 

And then the A in this very creative acronym of FAST is no Apologies. So don’t over apologize. Don’t apologize for making requests or being alive. Don’t apologize for having an opinion or disagreeing. I mean, I know I have found myself with you know, I’m sorry. But I don’t think that’s a good idea. And I don’t want to imply that, that is sometimes that can move things along. And other times it can really compromise self respect. So no looking ashamed, you know, thinking about how you’re holding your body, are you like, are you kind of slumping down or looking away? All these things can kind of diminish our our power and authority and therefore our self respect, in any given interaction.

Ed Fowler 

And if you tend to be someone who over apologizes, this is going to be an important one no matter what, to really practice making an effort not to apologize. And I think it’s as someone who has habitually over apologized, it’s really helpful to be conscious of like, I’m not going to apologize, I’m not going to apologize. It’s so easy to say, Oh, I’m sorry, but- no, no, no, like, I’m gonna really try to change that. And it’s worth it.

Ed Fowler 

And then the S in the FAST skill is Stick to your values. So make sure that you’re being true to what’s important to you, your own values, you’re not acting in a way that goes outside your values. So if it’s important for you to be respectful for two people, your self respect is going to go down if you let yourself get really frustrated and start getting judgmental in your language. So be clear about what are my values in the situation, and I’m sticking to those versus being swayed by someone else’s.

Marielle Berg 

And the last letter of the acronym the T is for Truthful or be Truthful. Don’t lie. Stay away from acting helpless when you’re not. Don’t exaggerate or make up excuses. And this can be really hard if you don’t feel like you have a right to say no, or you don’t feel like you have a right to ask for things. So you might kind of embellish or exaggerate. So trying to be as truthful as possible. Because that likely is related to your values and your own sense of integrity.

Ed Fowler 

And I think for for people who have been taught like, you don’t deserve to ask for things, you don’t deserve to say, No, you, you have to exaggerate, it has to be a big deal. You have to be really apologetic, the FAST skill is so important to practice. Like I am asking for what I want. I’m being clear, I’m saying no. And our self respect really goes up when we’re able to do that, versus I have to make it seem like a big deal in order to ask. Cause like, no, here’s what I want. And I’m asking directly. the GIVE skills are gentle, the FAST skill is more direct.

Marielle Berg 

Right. So that’s our brief overview. We went through, I’ll do a quick recap. We went through goals or clarifying goals, is it your objective your self respect the relationship, we reviewed each aspect of the DEAR MAN, which is one to really sit down and think about and write through. Then we talked about GIVE for when your relationship is number one, and then just now FAST for when your self respect is number one. So we hope that provide you all with a refresher and a good framework as we go into this new year 2023 so you can work on improving your relationships. Until next time.

Marielle Berg 

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. To learn more, or if you’re in the Bay Area and want to get started with therapy. You can find us online at BayAreaDBTCC.com.