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DBTalk: Module 4: Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills, Part 2

Yael Dorfman and Bashi Levine, LPC, ACT

Say goodbye to passive, doormat, steamrolled, and stressed Shalva who never says no to anything. Say hello to the new, improved, not-afraid-to-stand-up-for-herself, assertive Shalva!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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The girls are begging to learn the next sets of interpersonal effectiveness skills after practicing their relationship-effectiveness (GIVE) skills since last session. Now that they’re aware of the need to identify and prioritize their goal in every interaction, they’re itching to know how to address the other two areas of effectiveness: objective and self-respect.

And that’s exactly what we’re working on next!

The objective skills — also known as DEAR MAN — help us effectively make a request or say “no,” while our FAST skills help us maintain our self-respect.


Say goodbye to passive, doormat, steamrolled, and stressed Shalva who never says no to anything. Say hello to the new, improved, not-afraid-to-stand-up-for-herself, assertive Shalva!

Okay, I know it won’t be that simple. But I’m psyched about this skill set; it’s just what I need!

Bashi had us role-play again today, and it was comical. We came up with a bunch of scenarios to practice on: asking to go on a midwinter trip, asking your boss for a raise, saying no to lending out your notes, asking to go to seminary… in the end we settled on asking a teacher to change a test date.

First, we took an aggressive (and familiar!) approach: whining about our full schedules, yelling about the unfairness of it all, demanding a new date. Then we tried a passive approach: hinting about what we want, laying on the guilt, hesitantly beating around the bush. Obviously, neither approach was taken seriously.

The effective way to do it, Bashi says, is with DEAR MAN:

Describe the situation, sticking to the facts (You assigned a test for Wednesday; we have another major test that day and three more later in the week, plus play practice.)

Express your feelings using “I” statements (I am feeling stressed about everything I need to do and am afraid I won’t do well on your test.)

Assert yourself; ask for what you want or say “no” clearly (Could you please consider changing the test date to next week?)


Reinforce the person ahead of time by explaining the positive effects of getting what you want (I will be able to devote much more time to studying and do better on the test.)

Mindful: Avoid distractions and stay focused on the matter at hand; ignore attacks and repeat your assertion over and over, like a broken record (listen as she lectures about study habits and maintaining schoolwork throughout play season, then, like a broken record, respectfully repeat: Would it be possible for you to please reschedule?)

Appear confident (even if you don’t feel confident!): Make and maintain eye contact and speak in a confident tone of voice; don’t whisper, mumble, or give up and say “whatever.”

Negotiate: Be willing to give in order to get; ask for the other person’s input and offer alternative solutions; know when to “agree to disagree” and walk away (if she still insists on that date, try: Is there any way you would be able to make an easier test or let us take it open-notes?)

These skills help us get what we want without being pushy or obnoxious (just don’t go overboard on the “mindful” part — the “broken record” can be tricky to get right and shouldn’t be used in every situation). (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 699)

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