Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23rd - 30th, 2011: Skill of the Week

DEAR - MAN,

GIVE me help in holding FAST to my interpersonal effectiveness skills! 

-me

**(this information is taken from Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan.)

OK, so that is stupid. But it does highlight an important step...whatever it takes for you, remember what these acronyms mean. That will help you retrieve information later when you have to act on the interpersonal effectiveness and you do not have time to write it all out and compare it to your skills. Obviously, where you can write it out and plan according to skills, by all means, do it. But being able to recall these skills while in action will come in handy. We are constantly interacting with people. Conflict can arise on the fly, keeping these skills close by will help us to be effective with ease. 

Alright, let's get started. There are three factors that need to be weighed for interpersonal effectiveness. In fact, every interaction we have with another person deals with these very things. As we have discussed in depth over the past three weeks, they are: our objective, our relationship with the other person, and our self-respect.

Often times you will find that when things are at their worst as it relates to interpersonal effectiveness, you are generally "off" kilter a bit. Meaning, you may be bouncing around on what your priority for the interaction is, you may be uncertain yourself. So understanding which acronym to use is going to be tricky, and it will take practice, but you will find that it gets easier. Our acronyms are: 
D.E.A.R. M.A.N. / G.I.V.E. / F.A.S.T.

If you are faced with an interaction and you have determined that your objective is the most important factor, and that it comes ahead of keeping the relationship with the person in tact or even your own self-respect , then you will use D.E.A.R. M.A.N. (Of course, it isn't that cut and dry. Often times you will find that you have all three of these as a priority, one just happens to be a little more important in the moment than the other three)

D. Describe the current situation, tell the other person exactly what you are reacting to, stick to the facts.

E. Express your feelings and opinions about the situation. Assume that your feelings are not self evident. Use "I" phrases, "I want", "I don't want", instead of "I need" , "You should", or "I can't".

A. Assert yourself by asking for what you want or saying no clearly. Assume that others will not figure it out or do what you want unless you ask. Assume that others cannot read your mind. Don't expect others to know how hard it is for you to ask directly for what you want.

R. Reinforce or reward the person ahead of time by explaining the consequences. Tell the person the positive effects of getting what you want or need.

(stay) M. Mindful Keep your focus on your objective. Use "broken record", ask (or say no) over and over in a succinct, quiet, respectful manner. Ignore the other persons attacks, accusations, threatens or attempts to change the subject, just repeat.

A. Appear confident. If you do not have confidence, then fake it. Appear confident, effective and competent.

N. Negotiate - be willing to give to get. Offer and ask for alternative solutions. Reduce your request. If saying no, maintain it, yet offer to do something else instead. Focus on what works.

You can turn the problem over to the other person. Ask for alternative solutions: "What do you think we should do?" "I am not able to say yes, and you seem to really want me to. What can we do here?" "How can we solve this problem?"

If the relationship is top priority:

G.I.V.E.

G. (be) Gentle - be courteous and temperate in your approach. No threats, attacks or moralizing: "If you were a good person, you would...." Be very clear on the NO THREATS: "If you don't give me this, I will kill myself..."

I. (show) Interest - Listen and be interested in the other person. If you aren't interested in the other's point of view, then find a way to be interested.  When you are listening to the other person, do not interrupt or talk over them. Be patient and understand the person's desire to talk at a later time.

V. Validate - Validate, validate, validate. You cannot validate someone enough. Validation is another place to use broken record. Find an aspect of what they are feeling and repeat it whenever the subject gets "stuck" or you are being attacked. Be nonjudgmental out loud, "I can understand how you feel, although ..."

E. Easy manner - smile, relax, use humor. Ease the person along, be light hearted. Use a "soft sell" over a "hard sell" Relax your body language.

Finally, if your self-respect needs to be top priority:

F.A.S.T.

F. (be) Fair  - being fair is towards both you and the other person.

A. (no) Apologies - this is not the time to be overly apologetic. No apologizing for being alive, for making a request at all. No apologies for having an opinion or for disagreeing.

S. Stick to your values. They are your own set of values and you will not feel good about yourself when this interaction is over if you do not stick to them. You do not have to bulldoze, but these are your morals, your values you need to stick to your guns.

T. (be) Truthful - Do not lie, act helpless or exaggerate. Do not make up excuses.

In all of these, validation and confidence will go a long way. Look for the kernel of truth in both sides. You have truth to the situation as does the other person, no matter how small it may appear to you. Find it. Validating someone for their kernel will help.

Clearly you can see how these are not hard and fast, in all honesty you will be using them in a more "blended" manner to accomplish interpersonal effectiveness as a whole. But these acronyms are a good map in mapping out your course. Any thoughts, questions, concerns, experiences??? Please share them, we would love to hear from others on how these skills work or don't work for you!

MJ