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How Can You Use DBT Skills To Get What You Want? Pt. 2

By: Zana Van Der Smissen

Hello, and welcome back to how you can use DBT skills to get what you want, part two! If you haven’t read my first blog in this series, feel free to go back. I talk all about interpersonal skills as a DBT module and how DEAR MAN can be effective in helping you get what you want. In part two, we will be talking about the next acronym, GIVE, and how it helps us maintain friendships and relationships. So without further ado, let’s break it down and learn together how we can communicate our needs in relationships and make friendships last!

When trying to keep or maintain a relationship with a romantic partner or friend, we want to be engaged in the conversation and be that supportive person for others. This is where GIVE comes in as its objectives are as follows: “Balancing immediate goals with the good of the long-term relationship, acting in such a way that the other person keeps liking and respecting you” and “maintaining relationships that matter to you” (Linehan, 2015). If these are objectives that you would like to work on, let’s break down the acronym of GIVE.

  • G – Gentle
  • I – Interested
  • V – Validate
  • E – Easy Manner


Breaking this down further, GIVE can be a reminder for when you are in conversation with someone to act a certain way to maintain relationships. In therapy, we talk about the language that we use is important, but this also extends to our body language, mannerisms, and how we are communicating/ presenting ourselves to others. An example scenario using this acronym would be meeting up with a friend for coffee who you tend to disagree with. Using GIVE, you try to be gentle in expressing your anger in a healthy way that involves no physical altercations, no judgments on your behalf, no rude body language, and, above all, expressing your anger by stating the facts. Being gentle can look different for each person and it will take some time to find what adaptive communication style fits you!


Being or acting interested is again addressing body language in a respectful way. When your friend is telling you their side of the story, be an active listener; try to put your own emotions and thoughts on pause for a moment to potentially understand why your friend might be feeling the way they feel. Being an active listener includes how we are looking at our friend, how close our body is to the other person, and being patient with them as you move through this together. A way to reframe a disagreement is by seeing it as two people who are on the same team and have experienced some form of miscommunication or hurt in the relationship. In a way, by being interested and giving them respect by listening to them, others are assessing us for how well we do when a rupture occurs in relationships.


Validation is probably the most important step in this acronym as everyone is seeking this. No matter what the context of the disagreement or conversation, all of us want to be validated, seen, and heard when we are expressing our emotions so do that for your friend! To validate someone, try to step into their shoes, see how they might be feeling and communicate that. An example could be, “I can understand that this situation is tough for you because of your past history with friendships and I want to be there for you.” Humans don’t get validated as much as we should, it’s one of the reasons people seek out therapy so understand that validating your friend or loved one, might trigger some emotions for the other person. Be patient with those emotions and your own!


Finally, we end in an easy manner. For this acronym, Dr. Linehan wanted to demonstrate the power of going into the conversation with an open mind and remembering your WHY. Why are we taking the time to talk to this friend? Why are we putting in efforts to maintain this relationship? What made you want to be friends with this person in the first place? Reminding ourselves of this question can allow us to have our guard down while addressing conflict. If everyone feels at ease, we can really dig into the root of the issue rather than stay mad, to be right. Easy manner can look like smiling, being light-hearted, supporting your friend along the way, and acknowledging that this is a difficult conversation to have but an important one.

The acronym GIVE only scratches the surface of what you can do to be effective in maintaining friendships and relationships. There are multiple factors to consider when making it your own so it feels natural to establish more boundaries around the conversation so that you feel validated in the conversation as well. Play around with it, and talk with your therapist about how this DBT skill can be used in your own life! As you navigate relationships, always feel free to reach out to Symmetry Counseling if you would like to learn more about how therapy in Chicago can help. Be sure to tune in for the next breakdown of a DBT skill!

Linehan. (2015). DBT Training Manual, Second Edition. Guilford Press.

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