How to Win Friends & Influence People the DBT Way

In a recent post I talked about using skills to get what we want and need without damaging our relationships with others. In DBT speak they are called Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills.

If you are anything like me, you were used to being independent. If no one did it for me, I did it for myself. Now I find myself in the position of asking for favors, asking for help. It is aggravating and depressing; yes? Yes! DBT has skills for getting what you want without alienating people and, just as importantly, saving your self-respect. None of us like to grovel or beg. Too old for that nonsense.

It’s time to learn skills to get us what we want without alienating people.

The acronym is DEARMAN. DBT has a lot of acronyms.

D is for describe. You describe the situation in nonjudgmental terms. Be objective. Good: “I have a visual impairment and I cannot read the menu board.” Not good: “How do you expect anyone to read that board? The print is too tiny!”

Describe the situation in nonjudgmental terms.

E is express feelings or opinions about the situation. Remember not to be judgmental. Good: “I really hate to inconvenience you…” Not good: “This place has no consideration for older people!”

Express feelings or opinions about the situation in nonjudgmental terms.

A is for assert wishes in a clear, concise and assertive manner. Good: “Could you please read today’s specials to me?” Not good: “Read me that damn special right now!”  Remember assertiveness and aggression are not the same thing.

Assert wishes in a clear, concise and assertive manner.

R is for reinforce your request, and more importantly, their compliance. Good: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate the help.” Not good: “Well, amazing! You can read.”

Reinforce your request and their compliance.

M is for mindfulness. Stay focused. Don’t get sidetracked. Good: “I would be happy to let you seat me after I know the special.” Not good: “Seat me next to the window. Get me a coffee….WHAT is the special???? I don’t like THAT!”

Stay focused, don’t get sidetracked.

A is for appearing confident. Believe you will get what you are asking for. Convey that you deserve respect. Good: use a strong voice. Not good: Mutter, stammer.

Appear confident.

N is for negotiate. In order to get, you have to be ready to give. Good: “Do you have a comment box at this restaurant? I always like to let management know when I get good service.” Not good: “Do it. It is your job to wait on me!”

Negotiate and remember that in order to get you have to be ready to give.

DBT also promotes persistence. That is calm, goal-directed persistence. It is called the broken record technique. “I would like you to read the special to me…please read the special to me…could you read the special to me….what is the special?”

Be persistent but calm.

I found a quote a while back: “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” -Eric Hoffer. Remember that. Remember it not only when you are frustrated and want to be rude but when someone is rude to you. There are days that this vision loss gets to you big time. There are days you run into seemingly every idiot in the world. Mark Twain said: “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Don’t engage with people who are rude or simply trying to get your goat (and exactly where did THAT expression come from?). Not engaging is a show of strength. Engaging gives the idiots power. There are ways of asking for help, getting it and still maintain self-respect. DBT calls them Interpersonal Effectiveness.

Don’t engage with people who are rude, engaging gives the idiots power.

Next: Mind Weeds

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