DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness “FAST” Skill

This week in my DBT Skills Group we continued working through Interpersonal Effectiveness, looking specifically at the acronym FAST.

Where DEARMAN = Objectives Effectiveness, and GIVE = Relationship Effectiveness, the FAST skill is used to nurture Self-Respect Effectiveness. Although it can be helpful in a range of contents, generally it is used in conjunction with the DEARMAN skill. When used in this way, the aim is to achieve your objective within the relationship, whilst maintaining or boosting your self-respect both during and after the interaction at the same time.

FAST stands for:

  • (be) Fair – This applies to both the objective itself, as well as the way in which you go about communicating it. Regarding the former, ask yourself if the request you are making is realistic for the other person and to yourself practically and emotionally. Regarding the latter, ask yourself if the ways in which you are approaching the other person, as well as yourself, are in line with your values and long-term goals. It is possible to validate the other person’s feelings without minimising or dismissing your own; your own needs are no less important than anyone else’s.  
  • (no) Apologies – If you over-apologise (or even apologise at all) it can send the message – both to yourself and the other person – that you have done something wrong. If it is perceived that you have done something wrong or that you have no ‘right’ to ask for what is it you need, the other person may be less inclined to meet your request. Constantly apologising may even aggravate and push people away. And it isn’t particularly lifting for your own self-respect, self-efficacy or sense of self-mastery either!
  • Stick to values – If you are not sure what your values are, it may be helpful to brainstorm a few that fit into different domains of your life. For example, what are aspects you deem to be of value in the context of: family, friends, work, education, health, nature, leisure, creativity. Listing these enabled me to get a better feel for how to approach situations in a way that matched my morals and internal belief systems.
    Sticking to your values over time will help increase self-respect as you are acting in a way you deem to be ‘right’ – both for others and for yourself. On the other hand, acting in a way that contradicts these values will probably lead to you feeling shitty about yourself in the long run, even if in the short-term it enables you to get your objectives met.
  • (be) Truthful – Whilst white-lying is not discouraged in DBT (as long as it is effective, usually when the Relationship Effectiveness is the priority over Self-Respect Effectiveness), full-on dishonesty is unlikely to be very helpful in boosting the way you feel about yourself. (Unless of course one of your values is to lie or be a liar, in which case, this probably won’t be the most helpful skill for you to use!). This also means not acting helpless when you are not, or exaggerating in a potentially manipulative way. If you go about getting your objective met with honesty and integrity, you are more likely to feel good about yourself than if you approach it with dishonesty and immorality, no matter what the outcome.

Be very careful in using the DEARMAN, GIVE and FAST skills in the context of any form of abusive relationship. These are not the skills to use in these sorts of situations as it is unlikely the other person will be able to respond to your needs at all, and you may find yourself in a situation of even greater risk. In these situations, the DBT pages on ‘Ending Destructive Relationships’ will probably be more helpful. In situations when destructive relationships cannot be ended, the focus will shift to Distress Tolerance and harm minimisation strategies.
This should all be discussed in great length with a therapist or other professional first. This is just my opinion from what I have learnt from the DBT therapists in my Skills Group.


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