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Key Takeaways:

  • DBT GIVE is a skill that can help maintain healthy relationships.
  • DBT GIVE can be used in many contexts, such as asking for needs, drawing boundaries, or resolving conflicts.

We’ve talked a lot about interpersonal effectiveness in the context of dialectical behavior therapy. Part of interpersonal effectiveness is looking after our relationships regularly. It can be difficult to let hurt and problems build up as a result of poor communication. You can use the DBT GIVE skill to prevent such problems before they become more difficult to solve. Here’s how DBT GIVE can help you maintain healthy relationships.

What is the DBT GIVE Skill?

The DBT GIVE skill teaches us how to develop and maintain our relationships. This can be especially challenging for individuals who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. DBT GIVES gives us the tools to maintain healthy relationships through our behavior and approach to other people.

G - be GENTLE

The first step in maintaining healthy relationships according to DBT GIVE is to be gentle. This involves being kind and respectful. It is best to avoid attacking or threatening the other person when communicating with them. Such actions can be destructive to your relationship. Being gentle also means not belittling the other person. Even if you don’t agree with someone, you can still treat them with respect. Ensure that your facial expressions and body language convey gentleness along with your words.

I - act INTERESTED

Do your best to be interested in what the other person has to say. Listen carefully to their point of view. To act interested, face who you are talking to and maintain eye contact. Lean slightly toward them rather than away. It is also important not to interrupt or talk over the other person.

V - VALIDATE

Validate the other person by showing them that you understand their thoughts and feelings about the situation. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view, and then express what you observe to validate their experience. Some validating statements are, “I understand this must have been difficult for you” or “I can see how much of an effort you are making.”

E - use an EASY manner

When working on your relationships, it’s best to approach them in an easy manner. This could involve smiling more, making the atmosphere more comfortable, being more light-hearted, and using some humor.

What is the DBT GIVE Skill Used for?

The DBT GIVE skill is used for maintaining healthy relationships through effective communication. You can use it to navigate your relationships as you draw boundaries and ask for your needs. DBT GIVE can also be used in times of conflict. It teaches you skills to keep your relationship intact while also meeting your personal objectives during arguments or discussions. Just remember that DBT GIVE is used when interacting with people you have an important relationship with.

DBT GIVE skills can be done alongside other DBT skills. For instance, you can use DBT emotion regulation skills to help ground you during times of emotional distress, which can result from disagreements or conflicts with someone important to you.

Examples of Using DBT GIVE Skills

Let’s say you are in a conflict with someone important, like your friend. This is how you can use DBT GIVE to maintain a healthy relationship with them despite your disagreement:

G - be Gentle - “Even though I hate fighting with you, I am pretty sure of my decision.”

I - act Interested - “Since you look really upset, I do want to know why you think this isn’t the right decision.”

V - Validate - “You seem quite set on your decision as well. I am definitely willing to take your perspective into consideration, and I will think about your opinions and arguments carefully.”

E - use an Easy manner - “Look at us, fighting like teenagers! How about I take you out to dinner and we can talk peacefully over some good food and maybe a drink?”

The Bottom Line

Maintaining our most important relationships is hard work. But if you empower yourself by mastering DBT interpersonal effectiveness skills like DBT GIVE, it becomes easier to approach difficult situations with loved ones with more confidence. Check out our other DBT worksheets to learn how to nurture your relationships in other ways.