Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Closeness through self-disclosure

Open up your heart and your mind if you want people to open up to you. You can only start to get to know someone well if you start to tell the other person more about you.

Self-disclosure is the act of revealing more about ourselves, on both a conscious and an unconscious level. Only through opening one’s self (self-disclosure) and by becoming vulnerable to another person can a close relationship be developed. Vulnerability can be expressed in a variety of ways, including the giving or sharing of anything which is considered to be a personal possession.

People and their personality are very much like a multi layered onions. Peel the outer skin of an onion, and you’ll find another layer beneath it. Remove that layer and you will expose another layer and so on.

The outer layer of personality contains the public self, which is accessible to anyone who wants to look. Below the surface layer, however, the personality holds more private information like beliefs, faith, prejudices and general relationship information. Held within the inner core are values, self-concept and deep emotions.

The Social Penetration Theory states that humans, even without thinking about it, weigh each relationship and interaction with another human on a reward cost scale. If the interaction is seen to be satisfactory or rewarding, then that person or relationship is looked upon as favorable, and a decision will be made whether the relationship or interaction will be further developed.

The questions of “What can you do for me?” and “What can you do to me?” are supposedly often weighed in taking stock.

Interpersonal closeness proceeds in a gradual and orderly fashion from superficial to intimate levels of exchange as a function of anticipated present and future outcomes. Lasting intimacy requires continual and mutual vulnerability through breadth and depth of self-disclosure.

This blog post is extracted from Irwin Altman & Dalmas Taylor’s Social Penetration Theory

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