Interpersonal Effectiveness Handout 3

Printer Friendly

Factors Reducing Interpersonal Effectiveness

Lack of Skill

You actually don't know what to say or how to act. You don't know how you should behave to obtain your objectives. You don't know what will work.
Lack of skill is frequently dismissed as lack of motivation. If you don't know what to say or do, all the motivation in the world will not show you how to do it.

People learn interpersonal skills the same way they learn other skills
1. By observing others doing them
2. By practicing the skill themselves
3. Refining the skills until desired results are achieved

Lack of interpersonal skills can occur when
You don't have anyone to model the skills
2. You don't have the opportunity to observe the skills being modeled
3. You don't have the chance to practice the skills
The degree of interpersonal effectiveness often varies from one situation to another, from one frame of mind to another, from one mood to another..

Worry Thoughts

Worry thoughts get in the way of using interpersonal skills. In this situation you have the ability, but your worry thoughts interfere with doing or saying what you want.
Worrying about bad consequences..."they won't like me"...she will think I'm stupid"
Worrying about whether you deserve to get what you want..."I am such a bad person I don't deserve this"
Worries about not being effective and calling yourself names..."I won't do it right"...."I'll probably fall apart"...I'm so stupid."


(Practice noticing your breath to get you to get to a calmer state so you will get into wise mind)
Emotions may get in the way of our ability to behave. In this situation you have the ability, but it is interfered with by your emotions.
For example, you might get angry or anxious, or feel frustrated and guilty because of how you think about a situation, or because you don't know what to do.
Emotions can be an automatic response to a situation, based on previous experience. Emotional reactions can also be based on myths.


(Emotions/Worry create indecision) You have the skills but you can't decide what you really want or what to do.
This is likely to occur when:
1. You are conflicted/uncertain about your priorities
2. When you can't figure out how to balance asking for too much versus not asking for anything
3. When you can't figure out how to balance saying no to everything versus giving in to everything


There are times when even the most skilled individuals cannot be effective at getting what they want, keeping others liking them, or behaving in ways that they respect.
Examples of situations where even very good skills may not get you what you want:
when the environment is too powerful....others in this situation may simply refuse to give the person what they want, or they may have the authority to make her do what they want her to do. Saying no here, or insisting on rights may have very negative consequences
When other people feel threatened, jealous, envious (etc.) there may be no way to ask for what you want or say no and keep the other person liking you.
Sometimes the objective is so important (i.e. food for children) that one will pursue it even though it may damage their pride or self-respect.

Interplay of Factors

The less you know, the more you worry, the worse you feel, the more you can't decide what to do, the more ineffective your are, the more you worry...
The more you experience non-giving, authoritarian environments, the more you worry, the less you practice, the less you know, the worse you feel, the more you can't decide what to do, and so on..

Even very skilled people often cannot, and do not get what they want. It is important to look at the factors that resulted in you not getting what you want...It is not helpful, useful or realistic to always blame yourself for not getting what you want!

Lastly, the belief that you can always get what you want (if only you were skilled enough) makes people feel that they "should" never be disappointed. This view generally leads to self-blame, frustration and anger.

[DBT Self Help] [What is DBT?] [DBT Skills (defined)] [Connecting Skills] [DBT Lessons] [DBT Video Text] [Everyday DBT] [Instant Mindfulness] [Instant Access DBT] [Links] [About this Website] [Mission Statement] [Site Map] [Contact] [Donations] [ANGELS] [Letters of Affirmation] [Contributions] [Copyrights]

© 2003 - 2012 by Lisa Dietz. Please read the Copyright Page to learn how you may or may not use these materials. This website is for informational purposes only and not for any other purpose. None of information referenced by or presented on this website is intended for counseling or treatment of a specific person -- you or anyone else. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this website. Using this site or communicating with DBT Self Help, LLC, through this site does not form a counseling or treatment relationship. Please review the full disclaimer for more information.