top of page


  • Jennifer Smith

Tips to Sustain Healthy Relationships

As seen on Instagram this week (@smithpsychotherapygroup) our DBT topic of focus is Interpersonal Effectiveness. There are four concrete skills that make up this division of DBT and they can be remembered by these easy acronyms: THINK, FAST, GIVE, DEAR MAN.

THINK: goal= to reduce negative emotions towards others

The meaning of T & H go hand in hand. T stands for “think” while H reminds you to “have empathy” for the other person in the situation. Both skills require you to go out of yourself and consider what your partner, friend, boss, may be feeling about the conflict at hand.

Second is interpretation. Think about the possible reasons why another person did the thing that upset you. Start with outlandish reasons (to open your mind) and move toward more realistic reasons.

- Example: "She was raised in a lab and doesn't have a heart → She wasn't raised in the lab, but she works for the lab and is doing tests on how mean she can be and get away with it → Her hamster died this morning and she's masking her sadness with meanness → She struggles with depression and just had a snap that caused her to be rude → She's just human and got frustrated and didn't manage it well. We all make mistakes."

Next, notice the other person. Notice their efforts of trying to be kind and improve the relationship. Notice if they look scared or if they smiled at you. Notice and take note.

Be kind in your response and tone. Choose your words wisely. An example of practicing this skill may sound like: "What you said to me hurt, and I hope we can fix this in the future. Right now I need some space." You do not need to forgive or forget, just be kind when approaching the situation. A kind response will be better for the long-term relationship than name-calling and yelling.


Be Fair to others and yourself through non-judgmental thoughts and actions.

(no) Apologies; this means only apologize when YOU are the one in the wrong. NO need to take responsibility for other people's actions.

Stick to your values when they are put to the test.

Tell the truth to yourself and others. Do not exaggerate or minimize what actually happened.


Be gentle in your approach. This will influence you to be mindful of the other person's emotions and communication will flow more easily and less definitively.

Act interested in what the other person is saying. Show interest through words and/or body language. This can be as simple as responding with an "uh-huh" or "oh really?" responses, eye contact, or making appropriate facial expressions.

Validate what the other person is saying, but that you understand it by echoing the emotion back to them. If she is telling you that her friend canceled their lunch date for the third time in a row, you might say "How frustrating! You must feel so disappointed!"

Present yourself in an easy manner and you will find yourself to be more approachable.


A chart is needed for this one…

With these interpersonal effectiveness skills, you can create healthy and sustainable relationships with just about anyone!


Featured Posts
Follow Me
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Pinterest Icon
bottom of page