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Developing Interpersonal Skills
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counseling CEUs and Specialty Certificates
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

Counseling CEUs can be found for this course at

~ Explore why it is important to develop interpersonal skills in clients
~ Identify the goals of interpersonal skill development
~ Explore why the relationship with self is vital in developing healthy relationships with others
~ Identify personal vulnerabilities which may impact interactions with others
~ Discuss boundaries, why they are important and common boundary issues
~ Explore resentment and jealousy and how to help clients address these feelings
~ Learn how to help clients develop a plan for nurturing relationships

Interpersonal Skills in Counseling
~ Why are they important
~ Relationships are a buffer against stress but can be a stressor
~ Help people manage relationships in context taking into account the reciprocal nature
Interpersonal Skills Goals
~ Develop awareness of, and honesty with, self and others
~ Develop and maintain meaningful relationships with healthy boundaries
~ Navigate unpleasant interpersonal experiences

Interpersonal Skills in Counseling
~ Types of Relationships
~ Relationship with self | Getting needs met
~ Perception + Self-Talk + Situation
~ Relationships with others
~ Perception and reaction to the situation/people
~ People’s perception and reaction and impact on the situation to you
~ Example: Verbal De-Escalation
~ Example: Feed the fury vs. Brainstorm solutions
~ Example Mad at your boss vs. your spouse vs. your best friend

Interpersonal Self Skills
~ Before you can be honest with and effectively interact with others in a way that meets your needs, you need to know
~ How the situation and prior experiences are impacting you
~ That you can trust yourself to accurately identify your needs and respond.
~ Example: Low self-esteem vs. High self-esteem alone
~ Example: Extrovert/Feeler vs. Introvert/Thinker handling a problem
~ Example: Domestic violence survivor vs. Non-survivor in a heated argument
Interpersonal Self Skills
~ Mindfulness: Honesty and Awareness
~ Vulnerabilities (interpersonal vulnerabilities)
~ Transference
~ Counterteransference
~ Displacement
~ Safe target
~ Seeking comfort
~ Triggers
~ Needs
~ What are my needs and how is this situation affecting them?
~ Reaction driven (autopilot fight or flee) vs. Goal driven

Interpersonal Self Skills
~ Awareness of your temperament and the temperament of others can improve communication and reduce stress.
~ Temperament
~ Extroverts need activity and talk while they think
~ Introverts need quiet time and think then talk
~ Sensors need details and concrete data points and can put it together as they go
~ iNtuitors need the bigger picture before the data (wiki)
~ Thinkers approach problems from a practical fix-it the right way point of view
~ Feelers often need their feelings validated (harmony), then solve problems from a fix it in a way that makes the most people happy
~ Judgers need structure, schedules and may not adapt well
~ Perceivers need spontaneity or they get bored.

Interpersonal Communication Skills
~ Practice the pause
~ Address one thing at a time
~ Truly listen to what the other person is saying
~ Try to take their perspective or theorize why they might be reacting this way
~ Boss snaps at you when you walk in her office.
~ “It seems like you are really stressed out today, maybe I should come back later.”
~ “What an awful, hateful woman.”
~ Parent makes child do Spring Cleaning
~ “I have to do everything. I am nothing more than slave labor.”
~ “My parents only ask me to give up 2 weekends a year.”


Interpersonal Other Skills, cont…
~ Paraphrase paying attention to your verbal and nonverbal reactions.
~ Observe the other person’s verbal and nonverbal reactions.

Establishing Trust
~ This is true for self and others
~ Be honest
~ Avoid gossip
~ Keep your promises
~ Prioritizing / Time Management
~ Secrets (obviously with reasonable limits)
~ Be loyal
~ Be respectful
~ Don’t take advantage (balance / gullibility)
~ Apologize when you make a mistake

~ Boundaries are dividers between you and others
~ If someone is mad at you, you don’t have to feel guilty.
~ If someone doesn’t like you, it doesn’t mean you are unlikeable.
~ If someone asks you to do something, you don’t have to say yes.
~ Just because someone thinks you should do something doesn’t mean it is the right choice for you
~ Just because someone is unhappy doesn’t mean you have to be.
~ Enmeshed family
~ Over-empathizing
~ If you have a different opinion, it doesn’t mean mine is wrong.

Interpersonal Bill of Rights
I have the right to
~ My feelings
~ My reactions as long as they don’t hurt others verbally or physically
~ My opinions and thoughts even if they don’t agree with yours
~ Be heard and respected
~ Say yes or no to requests
~ Limit contact if a relationship feels destructive
~ Have other friends and interests

You have the right to
~ Your feelings
~ Your reactions as long as they don’t hurt me verbally or physically
~ Your opinions and thoughts even if they don’t agree with mine
~ Be heard and respected
~ Say yes or no to requests
~ Limit contact if a relationship feels destructive
~ Have other friends and interests


Appreciate (Even Synergize) Differences
~ Extroverts can help introverts feel more at ease in big social situations.
~ Sensors are better with the detail oriented things.
~ Intuitors are better at the big picture.
~ Judgers can keep things on schedule and running smoothly.
~ Perceivers adapt well to unplanned events.
Create a Win-Win
~ When making a request identify not only how it benefits you, but also the other person
~ If you can let my dogs out this weekend, I can watch yours next weekend.
~ If you will cover for me tonight, I will owe you one.
~ If you would call if you are going to be late, it would help me be less stressed when you get home.
~ If you would make plans ahead of time it, would help me be less stressed.
~ I want to go out with my friends this weekend, so you can have the place to yourself or the guys over for poker.
~ If I accomplish my goal then I get to…
~ If you go to the gym with me then we can go out for lunch later.
~ I am really tired from work tonight. It would help me a lot if you would pick up pizza.
~ If you go to my family’s for Thanksgiving, I’ll go to yours for Christmas.
Saying No or Making a Request
Saying No
~ Refuse firmly – Insist
~ Refuse firmly – Reconsider if needed
~ Express unwillingness but say yes

Making a Request- Ask Directly
~ Ask firmly -Insist (Use win win)
~ Ask firmly- Resist if they say no
~ Bargain (If you will…then I will…)
~ Compromise
~ Ask tentatively – Take no

~ Can be expressed as anger at someone else for something they have that you want.
~ Power
~ Money
~ Attractiveness
~ Spouse
~ Possessions
~ Remember that anger is a response to a threat
~ Explore what you think having that says about the person and what not having it says about you.
~ In what way is not having this a threat to you?
~ Is this an actual threat based on facts?
~ What did they have to do to get that? Is it worth that to you?
~ Can be thought of as anger at someone else for something you feel they should have done and didn’t, or should not have done.
~ Remember that resentment is another response to a threat
~ Explore what you think the person’s behavior says about you.
~ In what way is this behavior a threat to you?
~ Is this an actual threat based on facts?
~ What other factors may have contributed to the person’s choice?


Nurturing Relationships
~ Learn about the other person’s:
~ Temperament
~ Love Language (be aware of extremes)
~ Words of affirmation
~ Acts of service
~ Receiving gifts
~ Quality time
~ Physical touch
~ Interests
~ Compromise
~ Communicate in a meaningful way