G.I.V.E. Your Relationship a Boost!

DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills

Relationship enhancement happens when we interact with our loved one(s) in a way that improves or enhances our shared bond. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) interpersonal effectiveness skills are a set of concrete skills that can be used when communicating with those we care about. In Pine Rest’s DBT program, we teach people skills to help them learn how to effectively ask for what they need … and say no to what they don’t.

If you are striving for relationship improvement–whether with a spouse/significant other, your child or even just a close friend–it is important to ask yourself, “Is my voice gentle and respectful?” or “Am I being too demanding?” 

Relationship effectiveness skills follow a simple acronym G.I.V.E. that teaches us what to say to our loved ones and how to say it. Here is an example of how you can use interpersonal effectiveness skills to improve your own relationship and show your love … on Valentines Day or any day of the year!

G is Gentle.

If a strong, close relationship is a priority, take care to communicate to your loved one in a gentle way. This means conducting discussions–and, yes, even disagreements–from a place of patience and understanding. Avoid frustration, sarcasm or anger at all costs.

I is Interest.

Showing a vested interest in someone is a great way to express your love! Remember that body language is a great way to show you care, as well as what you say. This means giving your loved one your full attention during discussions whenever possible–i.e. making good eye contact, asking questions and/or suggesting solutions, or even something as simple as reaching out and touching his or her arm while he or she is talking to show empathy.

V is Validate.

Validation is a great skill within itself. When you validate your loved one, you let him or her know they are seen, heard, cared for and understood. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say, but simply showing that you see where they are coming from and can understand that what they are feeling/experiencing matters to you.

E is Easygoing.

Lightheartedness is a great way to ease potentially tense interactions with your loved one and bring you both back down to earth. Try using humor or a simple, genuine smile to smooth out tense situations and bring you both closer together! Show your loved one that you are their safe person, their calm in the storms of life that sometimes come our way.

This Valentine’s Day–or anytime –try to G.I.V.E., and see just how much more effective you can be when communicating with those you love most!

We have DBT programs for adolescents and for adults in the Grand Rapids and Traverse City areas as well as DBT-informed therapy throughout the state of Michigan. For more information, call 866.852.4001.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an intensive outpatient treatment program effective for people who have difficulty managing and regulating their emotions and is particularly designed to help people with a range of mental health conditions including borderline personality disorder, suicidal ideation, self-harm, PTSD and others.  chronic suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, urges to self-harm and patterns of self-harming behaviors.

DBT-informed therapy incorporates the principles of DBT but does not include all of the components of DBT. It’s generally recommended for individuals with less acute diagnosis who could benefit from a more flexible and personalized approach.

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