Improve your Relationships with THINK

Interpersonal skills are part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and a great way to work on improving relationships, developing healthy communication, and ending conflicts and arguments. The THINK skill breaks this down and can be used during difficult situations in relationships with co-workers, friends, family, and acquaintances.

T – Think: Take a step back from the situation that you are in. Visualize the situation on a television screen and take an objective stance on it. Don’t bring emotions into this step!

H – Have Empathy: Think about the other person and put yourselves in their shoes. What are they thinking, feelings, need, or want? What is their perspective on the situation?

2 Steps to Tap into the Power of Empathy | SEI

I – Interpretation: What are the reasons for the person’s behavior? Start with unrealistic interpretations and move to more realistic ones. Even be silly with it until you can get to the more realistic reason. Maybe they aren’t answering your calls because they were abducted by aliens! Or maybe a more realistic reason is because they are in a business meeting.

N – Notice: Keep an eye on body language, facial expressions, and whether the person is trying to stop or continue the conflict. Is the person showing that they care and are trying to make things better?

K – Kindness: Be kind and direct. It is okay to take a break from the conversation and continue later when everyone is calmer.

Try this skill on the following scenario: Your friend does not text you back for days. Your reaction may be anger or disappointment. Take a step back from the situation and put yourself in your friend’s shoes. Are they struggling with something lately? What is a realistic reason that they are not returning your texts? Notice how they have been acting recently and interpret this in a kind way when confronting the situation. Using this skill on a scenario like this will help you to improve your relationship with your friend and increase your use of empathy and understanding.

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