Interpersonal effectiveness: aka how to get along with others

Katy Kandaris, LPC
11/17/2022
4/20/2021

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the goal of interpersonal effectiveness skills is to build and maintain positive, prosocial relationships. For some people, forming relationships comes naturally, but many individuals find forming and keeping healthy relationships difficult or confusing. While getting along with others takes work from more than just one person, knowing how to foster the opportunity for healthy interpersonal communication can go a long way. Interpersonal effectiveness skills focus on clear communication to achieve an objective, maintaining the relationship, and preserving our sense of self-respect.

Interpersonal effectiveness skills are one of the main focuses of DBT because the way we communicate with others has a serious impact on the quality of our relationships and our mental health and well-being. Social interactions happen every day and feeling confident and clear in communication can help us connect with others and understand ourselves better.

One important skill to have for clear communication is being able to assertively communicate needs and respond non-judgmentally. The interpersonal effectiveness skill to use is DEAR MAN.

Describe: Describe what you want using clear language. Do not assume the other person can guess what you want.

Express: Express your feelings and opinions. Do not assume the other person can guess how you are feeling.

Assert: Assert yourself by asking for what you want clearly and respectfully. Do not assume the other person will do what you want if you do not ask. Be assertive, not passive-aggressive or aggressive.

Reinforce: Explain the potential positive outcomes as a way of inviting the other person to agree to what you are asking for. Honor your word and provide the reinforcement or reward afterwards.

Stay Mindful: Stay present in the conversation and do not engage in extreme emotional behavior, rather use mindfulness to stay focused and to manage overwhelming feelings that may arise.

Appear confident: Use good eye contact and have confident body language.

Negotiate: Recognize the limits and boundaries the other person may have. Be willing to compromise and find a middle ground.

When we use the DEAR MAN skill, it becomes more likely that our communication will be clear and that our objectives will more easily be achieved. This skill takes time to learn and the more it is practiced, the more natural it will become. This skill can be applied to any form of communication and ultimately can help us get along with others better.

If learning interpersonal effectiveness skills is something you want to continue, please know that you can reach out for professional help regarding these skills and other DBT skills.

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Katy Kandaris, LPC
Owner & Trauma Therapist

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