Interpersonal Effectiveness

By Joe Alberts
Clinical Psychologist, The Resilience Centre

To use interpersonal skills effectively we have to decide the relative importance of:

  1. Achieving our objective
  2. Maintaining our relationship with the person(s)we are interacting with, and
  3. Maintaining our self-respect

It is important for us to know what we actually want – in other words what our goal is.  This is easier said than done and many interactions go off track when emotions interfere with knowing what we want.

Try this before your next “difficult interaction” with someone.  Decide before hand what you want to achieve and be clear in your communication.

Objectives Effectiveness 

The key question to ask yourself here is “What specific result or change do I want from this interaction”?  It may be what the other person is to do, to stop doing, to commit to, to agree to, or to understand.  It is important for the objective to be as specific as possible.  The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be to apply objectives effectiveness skills, and the clearer you will be as to whether or not you succeed in reaching your goal.

Examples are:

  • Refusing an unwanted or unreasonable request and making the refusal stick.
  • Requesting others to do something in such a way that they do what you ask.

Relationship Effectiveness 

The key question to ask yourself here is “How do I want the other person to feel about me after the interaction is over (whether or not I get the results or changes I want)?” At its best, you will get what you want and the person may like or respect you even more than before.

Examples are:

  • Acting in a way that makes the other person actually want to give you what you are asking for.
  • Focus on their needs and happiness and listen attentively. People who feel understood often wants to help in return.

Self-respect Effectiveness 

The key question to ask yourself here is “How do I want to feel about myself after the interaction is over (whether or not I get the results or changes I want)?”  Self respect effectiveness means acting in ways that fit your sense of morality, and that make you feel a sense of competence and mastery.

Examples are:

  • Standing up for yourself
  • Defending a friend
  • Stepping forward to say something courageous.

Deciding on the Relative Importance of the Three Effectiveness Types 

  1. All three types must always be considered
  2. Each type of Effectiveness may be more or less important in a given situation
  3. Each type of Effectiveness can be overused to our own detriment

As always balance is the key: 

Objectives Effectiveness – If we always focus on achieving our objectives others will feel unimportant or even used.  Choose wisely when you pick your objectives.

Relationship Effectiveness – Always subverting your needs in an interpersonal relationship does not work.  You lose yourself in the relationship and also lose the respect of others.

Self-respect Effectiveness – Some individuals make maintaining their self-respect the major issue in almost all interactions.  Always wanting to be on top or to have control or power, wanting to prove a point or defend  a position no matter what will compromise long term effectiveness.

This key lesson in Interpersonal Effectiveness was taken from the Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Skills Training Manual by author Marsha Linehan and published in 1993.  Dialectic Behaviour Therapy is proven to help with emotion dysregulation, including people who have traits of Borderline Personality Disorder, suicidality, self harm and addiction problems.  The Resilience Centre offers a fully adherent Comprehensive DBT program consisting of Individual Therapy, Group based skills training, telephone coaching and therapist peer support.

Does Someone Close to You Have a Gambling Problem?

By Mitchell Brown
Psychologist
Alpha Psychology and the Resilience Centre

One of the most disturbing aspects of problem gambling is that people can develop a serious gambling problem without anyone else knowing, including those closest to them. For others their gambling will not be a secret, although many will strongly deny that there is a problem despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In situations where problem gambling has remained hidden there are some observable signs that when considered together may point to someone having a gambling problem. It should be noted however that in some situations this will not be the case, or these signs may be pointing to a different problem.

There are two indicators that may suggest gambling problem.
The first indicator is a disturbing sense that something is not quite right. While people with a gambling problem can develop complex strategies to cover their tracks the people close to them will sometimes have a strong sense that something is wrong, but be unable to put their finger on exactly what it is. Sometimes it can be an unusually defensive attitude when what the person says is questioned, or they offer explanations that just don’t add up. People who develop a gambling problem can become extremely dishonest and secretive, invent complex stories to hide their gambling, and offer seemingly plausible reasons to explain anomalies such as unexplained absences from home or the workplace. They can also become aggressive and deflect blame on to others for their ‘unreasonable’ questioning. This behaviour is generally noticeably contrary to the person’s normal honest behaviour.

The second indicator is financial incongruities. While people with a gambling problem will have isolated wins, and sometimes big wins, the nature of problem gambling precludes people from coming out ahead financially in the long term. There will therefore be an ongoing need for funds to support their gambling. Some people will gamble on several occasions each week, some irregularly and some only on pay day.

The most telling sign of problem gambling is missing funds. A family which should be reasonably able to live within its means will often be struggling to pay bills. Sometimes bills which were thought to have been paid remain unpaid, loan repayments are found to be in arrears for no good reason and bank accounts are empty. Hidden debts to friends or financial institutions may also be present with correspondence directed to a post office box which no-one else is aware of. Another common feature is people asking friends and relations for loans for very worthwhile reasons, never for gambling or paying gambling debts.

People with gambling problems will also sometimes steal money to gamble with or pay gambling debts. This will usually involve embezzling from the workplace with a belief that the money will be returned once they have a big win. This is also behaviour that is contrary to their normal honest behaviour and often comes as a terrible shock to the people close to them.

Government funded free counselling, and financial counselling services for people with a gambling problem and their families are available throughout Australia. Registered psychologists who specialise in this area can be accessed through the APS ‘Find a Psychologist’ service.