Self-disclosure is the process of passing on information about yourself to someone else either verbally or nonverbally. We disclose verbally, when we tell others about our thoughts, feelings, ambitions, hopes, and fears. And we disclose nonverbally through our body language, clothes, accessories and any other hints we might give about our personalities and lives. Here we will focus on verbal self-disclosure. However, nonverbal signals are always present in our interactions by which we can reveal our self to others. In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to give and receive personal information at work.
Benefits of Self-Disclosure
In the workplace, fruitful self-disclosure can help to resolve clashes, build productive teams, and improve communication with colleagues, clients and customers. Sharing personal information with someone can, in the right situations make them feel reliable and important. Self-disclosure is a sensitive issue. If you get it right, it can fortify relationships, instill reliability, and boost your ability to inspire and lead. Making absurd or unsuitable disclosures, or reacting badly when others reveal personal details, can have the opposite effect.
Sharing information with someone in the right situation, make them feel loyal and significant. It often helps others to feel comfortable enough to do the same – forming stronger connections and making work more enjoyable and productive for everyone.
If for example, you’re in a leadership role, self-disclosure has power. It shows others that you’re true and increases their readiness to get behind your plans. It can also be a useful access when you’re managing people outside your organization. For example, showing your human aspect can create mutual understanding with your customers, even in difficult situations. Carefully handled self-disclosure can be strong way to handle criticism on social media, too.
Using Self-Disclosure in the Workplace
Here are some ways to help you share and receive personal information appropriately –
- Wait and Observe
- Start by observing the people around you, especially if you’re new in your role, or working in an unfamiliar environment. Concentrate on when and how much your colleagues or clients share.
- Consider Your Motives
- While it’s good to use self-disclosure to improve relationships and bonds and build loyalty, be sure that you’re not doing it for other less favorable reasons. Don’t use it to grab attention, to divert attention from other issues, or to gain an unfair advantage or just to extract a disclosure from someone else. People should feel safe to share when they want to, not because they are forced to do the same.
- Choose Your Moment and Your Method
- Avoid sharing sensitive information with someone when they don’t have enough time to hear you out. This not only leads to misunderstanding, but you could also end up feeling exposed and ignored. Talk when you won’t be disturbed. If the chance of self-disclosure arises unknowingly, think before you speak. Also, be sure to choose the right method for your conversation. Depending on the subject matter and its impact, your disclosure might work best verbally as a scheduled video call, or in an email that the other person can read when they choose.
- Go Slowly
- Sharing too much, too soon can be overpowering. But, taking too long to communicate can create uncertainty or suspicion. Instead, open up slowly. When you meet new people, start by sharing more superficial information like your hobbies and interests to build connections. From there, you can add more and more personal details, to deepen relationships over time.
- Listen Carefully
- Pay attention when your colleagues share personal information with you, to make them feel heard and understood. Take their permission before you can share the information with others.
- Respond With Care
- Self-disclosure is most helpful when it’s a two-way process. People form strong bonds when they open up to one another, in a way that they’re both comfortable with. You may want to offer advice where it’s not wanted. Avoid telling your own story in response, even if you think it would show understanding, as it risks overshadowing the other person’s news. Respond tactfully, so that the value you place on their self-disclosure is obvious.
Importance of Self- disclosure
Research suggests that self-disclosure plays an important role in forming strong relationships. It can make people feel connected, understand each other better, and work together more effectively. It helps in managing stress and tiredness.
- Self-disclosure is the basis of close personal relationships. It is a way of identifying with others, creating value for yourself and surfacing the values of others. Studies show that when you’re valued by others, your opportunities for exposure, challenging experiences and promotion will be multiplied.
- Self-disclosure is important for feedback and growth. People who reveal are far more likely to receive feedback and input from others. Without feedback, growth is not possible. Resisting self-disclosing adds to the stress of relationship and dulls your own awareness of your experiences. It is important to disclose with the intention of building a better self, a better relationship and a better organization.
- Self-disclosure is inevitably reciprocal. A person willing to be self-disclosing will likely be a competent, open and socially extroverted person who feels a strong need to interact with others. He is likely to be flexible, adaptive and, surprisingly, more intelligent than his less self-revealing peers. He will be more aware of the realities of organizational life and relationships.
- Self- disclosures are integral to human relationships. Conversations help to stay connected to people at workplaces. When people eat, meet and spend major part of their time together they are bound to get in off-task conversations which leads to personal disclosure.
- Self-disclosures create an environment of trust and openness. It also helps develop deeper relations beyond official tasks. Though such disclosures are also at a danger of creating negative opinions. It can make you an unwanted subject of office talks and collective mockery. Thus, self- disclosure is like a doubled edged weapon that must be borne by the workplace warrior cleverly. It is a great way of creating close relationships at workplaces. But if mishandled they can also lead to dismay.
Self-disclosure in the workplace is becoming more popular. Years of research on self-disclosure suggest that sharing personal information about one’s self tends to foster goodwill among others. In the work environment especially, showing weakness inclines colleagues to one another and can positively affect team performance, organizational behaviors and turnover.