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How Can You Use DBT Skills To Get What You Want? Pt. 3

By: Zana Van Der Smissen

Hello, and welcome back to how you can use DBT skills to get what you want, part three! If you haven’t read the first two blogs of this series, feel free to go back and read those first, where I discuss interpersonal skills as a DBT module, how DEAR MAN can be effective in helping you get what you want and how GIVE helps us maintain relationships. 

In part three, we will be talking about the final acronym, FAST, and how it helps you keep respect for yourself. Additionally, I will be covering how all these acronyms work alongside setting boundaries in your relationships. So without further ado, let’s break it down!

When trying to keep respect for yourself, we want to set boundaries around the conversation by ensuring that we are standing our ground, being honest, and displaying our true values. This is where FAST comes in as its objectives are as follows: “Be fair to yourself and to the other person, no apologizing for having an opinion, don’t lie” and “stick to your values” (Linehan, 2015). If these are objectives that you would like to work on, let’s break down the acronym FAST.

  • Be F – Fair
  • No A – Apologies
  • S – Stick to Values
  • Be T – Truthful


Breaking this down further, FAST can be a reminder to ensure that you are protecting yourself in a conversation. We do that by being fair to you and the other person in the conversation. Being fair can look very different for each person, but Dr. Linehan recommends focusing on validation; validating your own feelings, wants, and needs as well as the other persons!

No Apologies

No apologies are in reference to not apologizing for asking what you need/want and not apologizing for disagreeing with the other person or having a certain opinion. As mentioned in my previous blog post, our body language is important when it comes to conversing with someone so ensure that your body is not “looking ashamed” (Linehan, 2015). Finally, do not invalidate your own feelings surrounding the topic, you have a right to be heard and listened to. 

Stick to Values

Sticking to values is something that can escape our minds when we are acting out behaviors. We will follow another person’s lead or do what “looks” right rather than checking in with our own moral compass. If we are unsure about what our values are, this is a great time to think about what is important to us and how we are living our lives to be as genuine and true to ourselves as possible. In this scenario, how are our words and demeanor lining up with what we believe to be the “right” thing? 


In many ways, being truthful can be tied to sticking to our values and when it comes to how it relates to respecting ourselves, it allows us to not hide and be prideful in what we believe. By being truthful, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to be vulnerable with the world by sharing our thoughts and feelings. This can be painful and difficult to do at times, but it provides us with a deeper connection and understanding of ourselves. 

How Do These Acronyms Work Alongside Setting Boundaries?

And that’s it! Those are all the acronyms within the interpersonal effectiveness module within DBT skills. With all of those broken down now, I wanted to include a quick discussion around how these acronyms work alongside boundary setting. With all of these acronyms, there will be an opportunity with how you are coming across to the other person, what are we willing to compromise on, what are the goals of the conversation and what to do when our skills aren’t working that involve boundaries. We might be flexible with these boundaries depending on multiple factors so know that using this skill won’t look the same every time. Spend some time reflecting on what you feel are comfortable and safe boundaries to set for you and that other person before going into the conversation! It will allow you to stick to your values, your truth, and yourself much more easily than not knowing what your boundaries are, to begin with. 

All of these interpersonal effectiveness skills can be used in various situations but one might consider practicing them first in the therapeutic setting. Having a therapist guide you through it or having a role-play conversation can be really helpful to demonstrate adaptive communication that could be adapted for other settings! These acronyms are most effective when being practiced so try it out with a friend or a family member and see what works best for you! I hope that this introduction to the Interpersonal Effectiveness module within DBT skills is a helpful tool for you as you navigate relationships!

If you would like support in your mental health journey, connect with Symmetry Counseling to find out how therapy in Chicago can help!

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

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