Guidelines for Relationship Effectiveness: Keeping a Relationship Using DBT GIVE Skills

DBT GIVE skills video OPI IntensiveMy college roommate worked for the on-campus police substation, and as you can imagine they worked with a variety of students, professionals, and even the local community. More often than not, they were visiting the substation to complain about tickets, requesting a vehicle release, or reporting crimes. Watching her handle the never-ending line of disgruntled and even verbally abusive civilians was eye-opening for me, because she always had a smile on her face while serving them and maintained her cheery disposition. I recall asking her how she did it, and she replied with the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

It is not always easy for many people to communicate in this manner, especially when becoming emotionally dysregulated, so fortunately we have the DBT GIVE skill set to remind us to focus on being effective in our interactions, regardless of the situation. GIVE provides guidelines for maintaining or improving relationships while trying to get what you want from the interaction.

You can always check in with yourself to see if you are being effective by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Is your voice gentle and respectful or are you angry and yelling?
  • Do you ask or do you demand?
  • Do you listen to the other person or do you cut the person off

If you find that you need more direction to skillfully communicate, check out OPI’s GIVE skill video, below, for guidance for using this Interpersonal Effectiveness skill.

G: Gentle- Be nice and respectful. No attacks, threats, judging, or sneering.

I: Interested- Listen and appear interested in the other person. Listen to the other’s point of view, face the person, maintain eye contact, lean toward the person rather than away, don’t interrupt or talk over the person. Be patient.

V: Validate- With words and actions, show that you understand the other person’s feelings and thoughts about the situation. See the world from the other person’s point of view, and then say or act on what you say.

E: Easy Manner- Use a little humor. Smile. Ease the person along. Sweet-talk. Leave your attitude at the door.

Have you ever applied the DBT GIVE skills? Might you try using them in a future interaction?


At OPI Intensive, we offer compassionate, clinically sophisticated intensive residential and intensive outpatient (IOP/Day Treatment) help for young adult men and women who suffer from borderline personality disorder or BPD traits, including genetic testing to determine the best course for medications, if needed. Rather than a sterile, hospital-like environment, we offer beautiful accommodations in luxury apartments just outside of Los Angeles.  At OPI Intensive, we treat the individual, not the diagnosis.  Our clinical team is made up of a diverse community of passionate, highly skilled individuals working together with you to help you find your joy and express it.   For more information on OPI Intensive residential programs and our measures to help young adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, call us at 866-661-3982 or click HERE to submit an online form. We’ll be in touch promptly.