4D Relationship Effectiveness

This page tells you more about the DBT skills for ‘relationship effectiveness’.
These are the skills you would use when keeping the relationship with the other person is your highest priority in the situation (over achieving your objective or keeping your self-respect).

Difficulty with relationships can often come from a clash between our priorities (what we want or need) and the other person’s priorities (what they want or need). Interpersonal effectiveness for relationships is about dealing with the relationship in an effective way, not fighting it (which can cause more tension and conflict, and risk ending the relationship) and not giving in when you don’t want to simply to preserve the relationship. These skills help you attend to the relationship in a way that is respectful of both parties wishes.

These skills can be really useful in attending to your relationships, by helping you to:

  • explain what you want or need in a clear and calm manner
  • be open minded about the other person’s response to your requests
  • attend to disagreement and conflict before it gets worse
  • respect that the other person might have different viewpoints from your own
  • and ultimately keep a relationship that is important to you.

So, how does it work?

Firstly, to help you be more effective in your relationship, you need to think about:

  • how important the relationship is to you?
  • how you want this person to feel about you after this interaction?
  • what you need to do to make this happen, and keep this relationship?

With this in mind, you can use your DBT skills.

DBT uses acronyms to help you remember the skills that are linked to each type of effectiveness. For ‘relationship effectiveness’, the acronym is GIVE, and the skills are, to:


Gentle: Be kind, gentle and respectful to the other person. Don’t attack, make threats, criticise or bully; instead stay calm and have a gentle manner, say nice things and avoid making judgements.


Interested: Act interested by listening to the other person, not interrupting, and keeping eye contact.


Validate: Be aware of the other person’s feelings and viewpoints; acknowledge them, without making judgement.


Easy manner: Be friendly and open to discussion; smile, be light-hearted, use humour.

It’s important to stick with these skills throughout your interaction with the person, even if things don’t seem to be going your way. Remind yourself – the other person is more likely to respond in the way that you hope, if you are calm, kind and respectful towards them, than if you criticise or make threats. Keep your goal in mind – to protect and keep this relationship; be mindful in using your skills; be effective.

My 4D Toolkit Activity

Paying attention and looking for hidden clues is a big part of ‘relationship effectiveness’, so to help you reflect on the GIVE acronym we have put together a fun wordsearch. Look out for 20 hidden words, and remember – there are no right or wrong answers!

Skill Search download button

Related Pages: Interpersonal effectiveness,  Objective effectiveness Self-respect effectiveness,

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