Interpersonal Effectiveness Series # 4 FAST Skills- How to have hard conversations and keep respect for yourself

Interpersonal Effectiveness Series # 4 FAST Skills- How to have hard conversations and keep respect for yourself

The last skill in this acronym (DEAR MAN GIVE) is FAST skills. These skills are for “keeping respect for yourself.”

For the people pleasers in the crowd (raise your hands) this is the skill for you! It is possible to keep respect for yourself while also keeping your relationship, not being selfish, and still respecting the other person.

As a self-identified, life-long, people pleaser I always equated speaking up for myself or having an opinion as synonymous with rocking the boat and upsetting other people. I have heard (and had my brain tell me) every possible myth out there of why it is not ok to advocate for yourself (rude, selfish, not polite, not ladylike, aggressive, cold, calculated, manipulative… you get the point right?).

I am here to tell you that advocating for your self is not only ok but necessary and your right as a human being. All human beings deserve to be treated well and to advocate for themselves when they are not. I am not saying that this will be easy or come naturally, it will take hard work, but it will be worth it.

When we do not advocate for ourselves our needs are usually not met and negative feelings such as resentment can build. Resentment is a threat to any relationship. While holding your feelings and your tongue may seem like the best option at the beginning of a relationship, over time it will actually degrade the relationship.

The other threat that holding in our voices has, is that those around us are not really connected to the true us. If we hide who we really are for the sake of getting others to like us, they do not even like the real us. Thus, it is better to be the real you at the beginning of a relationship so that you know if someone is truly a good fit for who you really are. If they do not mesh well with who you really are, then you know it is not a good fit for you.

The steps for FAST skills are as follows:

(be) Fair

Be fair to both yourself and the other person. As a people pleaser, it is easy to get caught up in the other person’s needs or emotions and try to predict how they will react. Our actions can quickly become about the other person and not what we truly want.

This step guides you to make sure that you are being fair and true to your self and what you need. Remember to check in with your needs, wishes, wants, and feelings and act on those rather than what you think the other person wants.

If you notice that you are focusing entirely on the other person, take a step back and re-focus on your goals for the interaction. The simple question of “what do I want?” should be enough to guide you back on track.

With this said, it is also important to still be fair to the other person. I am not telling you to be a bulldozer and to do whatever you want to get your needs met. I am telling you to balance both your needs and the other person’s needs and not let either one take over fully.

(no) Apologies

Anyone else ever feel like an apology machine? I remember once someone bumping into me and me apologizing for it. For those that identify as people-pleasers, we are often trained to apologize for everything (our needs, wants, desires, and sometimes our mere existence).

Apologies are important for taking accountability when we have actually done something wrong, but for some of us, we are apologizing inappropriately (where we have done nothing wrong and do not need to apologize).

We do not need to apologize for being alive, making a request, having an opinion, or for disagreeing. We are allowed to do these things so long as we communicate them in an appropriate manner.

It is important to also monitor what your body is communicating. You do not have to look ashamed (eyes and head down, body slumped, etc.) when making a request or saying no to a request.

You do not need to justify, explain away, or be embarrassed to have needs and ask others to meet them. It is ok!

Stick to values

Make sure to stay true to what you care about and not compromise who you are for someone else. People pleasers tend to agree with the opinions of others in order not to rock the boat, but often this means compromising what they truly believe and care about. In a healthy relationship, you should not have to change who you are, what you believe in, and what you care about in order to get along. You are entitled to your own opinions, beliefs, and values.

Constantly putting your own values and beliefs aside for those of others is not only frustrating but will also wear down your own sense of self-confidence. You will soon start to question the validity of your own opinions and values.

When you care about something, let it be known. If someone asks you to do something that is against your values, you can say, “Sorry, I am not willing to do that as it goes against my values.”

Don’t sell out your values or integrity for the purpose of getting along or appeasing others. It is possible to get along while still maintaining your own values.

Long time people-pleasers may find that they are not even sure what they believe in or care about, as they have shoved their own values aside for so long. If you relate to this, it may be time to step back and do some of your own work to determine what you value. Therapy is a great place for exploring and finding out what you truly care about and working through barriers of advocating for yourself.

(be) Truthful

Similar to sticking to your values, being truthful involves staying true to who you are and what you care about. Be truthful about what you want or need, if the other person cannot accommodate it, or does not like it, then they are not a good fit for you. People pleasers often wait for the other person to notice or tell them what they want or need in a situation. Don’t wait, be pro-active, you can steer the ship of the relationship by sharing what it is you want and need.

If you don’t set clear boundaries of what you need and how you want to be treated, the other person will quickly set them for you, and likely not in a way that you like.

Don’t lie, exaggerate, act helpless, or make up excuses. None of these are going to help you keep a relationship or be respectful to yourself and other people. You also shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells or pretend you don’t have any concerns in order to make a relationship work. You do not have to give up yourself and your life for the other person. It is possible to keep your self- respect and the relationship intact. Anyone who does not respect your truth, needs, and desires is not for you.


Similar Posts:

What the heck is interpersonal effectiveness?

DEAR MAN Skills- How to ask for what you want

GIVE Skills- How to have hard conversations and still keep a relationship


I hope these skills are helpful to you right now and for a long time to come. Skills practice is not a replacement for professional help. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns I encourage you to seek out professional help. ACTivation Psychology offers individual therapy for teens and adults struggling with anxiety, depression, transitions, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other mental health concerns. Online therapy is available during this time for individuals in the state of Colorado. Please remember that you do not have to struggle alone!


*The above is adapted from Linehan, M., M., (2014). DBT Training Manual. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Please see the full text for more resources*

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