The Benefits and Downsides of Self-Disclosure

· November 17, 2018

What do we do when we first meet someone? To break the ice and start a smooth conversation, we make use of self-disclosure, which means providing information about ourselves. No one’s asking us about personal stuff. However, we make use of it when we want to create a bond with the other person.

Self-disclosure is considered a strategy because it’s part of our social skills. Some people use these skills more frequently than others. Although their use is beneficial, they can lead to certain issues when used excessively.

Self-disclosure when meeting someone new

How can you identify self-disclosure? Well, it’s very simple. Every time you voice your opinions, express your desires, or talk about yourself, you’re making use of self-disclosure. As previously mentioned, this is a great strategy to let others get to know you more and it creates a warm and pleasant atmosphere. Overall, it helps you bond with the person you’re getting to know. For example, if you express your thoughts and someone agrees, you’re on the right track to building a strong connection.

Two girls making use of self-disclosure while getting to know each other.

Giving information about ourselves to others is very pleasant. It creates a climate of trust and invites the other person to talk about themselves as well. In these circumstances, it’s normal for there to be interest and a firing of personal questions.

Self-disclosure is a very useful tool to use if you want people to really get to know you. You’re the one who knows yourself better than anyone else. If you believe you don’t have a lot of social skills, this is a great strategy to use to start a conversation with someone. Giving information is always an attractive thing. It makes the other person feel curious and leaves them wanting more.


However, even if you make use of this strategy, you can still make some mistakes. There are times when we don’t know why the other person didn’t like us or why we didn’t click. These kinds of situations can reveal some issues related to self-disclosure. Let’s delve a little deeper into this.

The problems of self-disclosure

Although self-disclosure seems to be an excellent way to start conversations and meet new people, the truth is that we’re sometimes better off without it. Next up, we’ll be exposing some of the mistakes we make regarding this strategy that can lead to uncomfortable situations.

Projecting a false image

All the information we share about ourselves is “good information”. We don’t talk about the things we don’t have nor do we mention our flaws and weaknesses. If we only give good information about ourselves, we may project a false image of perfection that could make us lose credibility.

Consider a situation where someone thought they were flawless and better than everyone else. That person was probably exaggerating everything they were saying. Perhaps they were focusing too much on their positive aspects instead of balancing them out with their faults.

A girl and her shadow behind her.

Oversharing

Some people love others to be completely transparent with them, to tell them their life stories even when they’ve just met. However, some people feel rather uncomfortable with certain types of information. For this reason, it’s important to be cautious and get to know the person you’re talking to before sharing lots of information with them.

Being too explicit can make a person you don’t know very well feel awkward. The reason for this is that you don’t know what their taboos are, what they think, or how they feel about what we’re talking about.

For example, telling a really detailed story or expressing your deep feelings can produce rejection if there’s not enough trust with the other person. Paying attention to the person’s body language and expressions is crucial since that’ll help you figure out if you have to keep some things to yourself or if you can keep going.

Something that’s important to note is that being too close-minded and reserved makes creating new relationships harder. Nonetheless, the same goes for oversharing and talking to someone we don’t know as if we’ve known them for years. It’s important to stay clear of the extremes. The success of self-disclosure lies in balance.

Two friends having a conversation.

The experiences of self-disclosure

It’s very likely that most of us have made mistakes regarding self-disclosure. This is totally normal. It’s not easy to distinguish what kind of information to give at first or to guess if the other person’s going to feel bad or uncomfortable with that we’re telling them. Little by little, your experiences will teach you when, how, and with which types of people to use it.

The most important thing is to be aware of the moments where we use this social skill automatically. It’s vital that we start using it consciously so we can get good experiences and establish special bonds with different people.