DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness “GIVE” Skill

This week in the DBT Skills Group I attend, we continued working through the Interpersonal Effectiveness module. We looked primarily at the GIVE skill which I will outline below.

GIVE is used when the priority within an interpersonal interaction is on Relationship Effectiveness i.e. maintaining the relationship.

The GIVE Skill is usually used in conjunction with the DEARMAN skill when trying to be effective both in one’s Objectives Effectiveness and Relationship Effectiveness simultaneously. Here the combined skills may be referred to as DEARMAN-GIVE. In my opinion GIVE can be used on its own as well within any interpersonal interaction in which the relationship is important to you.

The acronym GIVE stands for:

  • (be) Gentle – quite simply, this reminds us to be gentle, kind and respectful in how we approach the other person. It consists of 4 main aspects:
    No attacks: try to stay away from blaming, shaming or accusing the other person. People are likely to become defensive if they feel they are being attacked, and this will get you further away from reaching your desired goals.
    No threats: do not ‘manipulate’ the other person or be passive aggressive in your tone. Even if you get your immediate needs met by threatening something like “If you don’t do X, I will hurt myself”, it is not going to helpful in maintaining the relationship healthily long-term.
    No judging: try to stay away from telling the other person what they ‘should’ be doing or what they have done ‘wrong’. Of course, don’t label them with words which are likely to hurt them. Try and stay descriptive.
    No disrespect: if you treat someone with respect, it is much more likely to be reciprocated. Be wary of urges such as eye-rolling, walking away, ignoring, belittling, etc. Treat the other person as you would like them to treat you.
  • (act) Interested – the skill here is that even if you don’t really care about what the other person is communicating to you, you have to act as though you do! This is why it is called a skill 😉
    People will think more highly of you if you give them the time and space they need, and will be likely to respond to your needs if they perceive that you are responding to theirs.
  • Validate – you can do this both with your expressions and your words, as well as in your actions. Mirror the other person; adjust your facial expressions to match what it is they are talking to you about. Look them in the eye and show that you are listening to them. This overlaps with the above skills – acting interested can be a form of validation.
    Try to find the valid amidst what is being said. Even if you don’t agree with the other person, validate with words that at least you understand why they feel the way that they do.
    The saying “Actions speak louder than words” is quite fitting here – if you validate in words (e.g. saying that you understand that the person is feeling sad) but continue acting in a way that is not helpful to the other person (e.g. continuing to behave in a way that leads them to feel sadness), it may negate your efforts.
  • Easy Manner – try to be light-hearted, flexible and approachable. If you are struggling with your own emotions or mood, try to leave them at the door and not let them infiltrate into the relationship. Try and make the interaction feel easier for the other person. Be smooth. Be soft. Be chill. (Of course, all only to an effective extent!)

We then moved on to expand on the in GIVE: Validation. We read through the Six Levels of Validation outlined in Marsha’s workbook; a topic which I have previously written about it more detail here which is a favourite topic of mine.


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