On a daily basis, we can encounter situations that make using effective interpersonal skill next to impossible. In DBT, Interpersonal Effectiveness teaches you these skills to help with:
- Attending to relationships
- Balancing priorities versus demands
- Balancing the ‘wants’ and ‘shoulds’
- Building a sense of mastery and self-respect
Pg. 196-197 in my DBT Workbook lists 4 Myths that prevent us from using effective interpersonal skills. I have believed all of them but the more I learn the more I understand that none of them are true and I can communicate well with others and respect myself.
1. If I need something, it means there is something wrong or bad about me.
We all have needs! I know some of us have been told that we are not allowed to need something, but it’s NOT TRUE! Our entire lives are about negotiating our needs which is how we survive. Sometimes your needs cannot be met for a variety of reasons but that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to have them.
Alternative coping thought: “I have a right to want things.” (pg. 196)
2. I won’t be able to stand it if the other person gets mad or says no.
Rejection hurts. Having someone get mad at you hurts. Think about it though; you have survived all the other rejection and hurts so you will survive this one as well. It’s worse to live with never having asked for what you want. You shouldn’t ignore yourself.
Alternative coping thought: “I have a right to ask for things – even if the other person won’t give them.” (pg. 197)
3. It’s selfish to say no or ask for things.
Sometimes it can feel selfish and other times people might call us selfish out of anger, but that is simply not the case. It is never selfish to set limits, in fact, it is healthy! Our survival is based on knowing and saying what we want.
Alternative coping thought: “It’s normal and healthy to ask for things.” (pg. 197)
4. I have no control over anything.
You do and you do not. You may not be able to control others, but you CAN control yourself. You can control your behaviour when you interact with others. How you chose to do that can help you get your needs met, like if you chose to be assertive.
Alternative coping thought: “I can choose to behave in more effective ways.” (pg. 197)