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How to Get Close to People You Like Easily Even If You’re Not a Social Butterfly

How to Get Close to People You Like Easily Even If You’re Not a Social Butterfly

Being vulnerable with people is one of the hardest things we can do. Opening ourselves up to others with our inner feelings, emotions and thoughts puts us in the mode of fear – fear of being rejected and disliked for showing our real selves.

But a study from the University of Tübingen[1] has found that being more open with our emotions causes people to find us more attractive. And the same idea is applied to creating closeness through revealing personal experiences and thoughts with those we want to build a friendship with.

People who form close bonds with others are mastering the art of self-disclosure but how can we do this effectively? After all, isn’t revealing our deepest thoughts and secrets straight away a bit too off-putting to others? Self-disclosing at the right moment is key to successful relationships and can subtly create bonds instead of an uncomfortable long-term sense of misunderstanding and alienation.

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Why Disclosure Yourself Is So Important for Your Interpersonal Relationships

We can reveal a lot about ourselves through the clothes we wear, our body language or the throw-away comments we make but they aren’t a real window into our true selves. Self-disclosure is seen as more purposeful – in other words, we are choosing to reveal something about ourselves that we see as a slight risk and subsequent vulnerability.

There are three theories that help to explain different reasons why we go through the process of self-disclosure and how it allows us to develop deeper bonds with others.

Social Penetration Theory: Self-Disclosure Helps Let Your Guard Down

This refers to the reciprocal process of self-disclosure that we create when building up a relationship with another person and how it deepens over time. Everyone has layers to their personality and this process is the back and forth gradual penetration of these layers. It’s a natural process which can sometimes be a fine balance especially in friendships or relationships that contain tension but revealing self-disclosure at the right moments can lead to a deeper understanding of each other.

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Social Comparison Theory: Self-Disclosure Helps Spot Your Tribe

Another reason why we self-disclose is through social comparison and sometimes to seek validation from others. We tend to evaluate ourselves based on how we compare with other people. This isn’t necessarily vindictive behaviour but it’s a way of finding out how inferior or superior we are to somebody else. From here we can evaluate how well we may get on with this person and whether their values or beliefs are similar to ours based on their positive or negative reaction. This determines whether or not we want to continue building the relationship.

Self-Disclosure Reciprocity: Self-Disclosure Builds Trust

This is the idea that revealing more intimate thoughts and beliefs with someone allows them to feel like they are trusted and liked, therefore reciprocating their own inner feelings and beliefs back to you.

A study[2] by Susan Sprecher and colleagues from Illinois State University was conducted to see how self-disclosure reciprocity between strangers influenced each others’ likability for one other. They found that the degree to which people reciprocate is directly proportionate to the extent to which they self-disclose. In other words, more trust was built between strangers the more each of them self-disclosed to one another.

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How To Use Self-Disclosure to Build Relationships

So what does this mean for our own relationships and how can we use self-disclosure to create stronger bonds?

Timing: Revealing your inner-most secrets on a first meeting is probably not the best time to get the self-disclosure ball rolling. Small talk is usually the best way to start a connection with somebody and a good way to get a basic feel of the other person’s personality. Sensing that the other person is open to developing a friendship with you (which may be after a few small interactions or a couple of longer ones) now would be the time to initiate the process of self-disclosure.

The Best Situation: Self-disclosure works best in a one-on-one situation rather than in a group. A group has differing dynamics and self-disclosing in this situation can lead to it backfiring especially if it’s a more personal piece of information. Keep your self-disclosing to one person at a time since this elicits more trust between the two of you.

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What to Disclose: It’s always best to start off with something humorous – a funny or embarrassing story can come across as natural and an act of self-mockery. This causes people to find others instantly more likeable and opens up a feeling of trust to self-disclose back to you. Once your relationship with the person progresses, self-disclosing personal, in-depth information on a gradual basis will deepen the bond further.

How Much to Disclose: This is very dependant on the type of relationship you’re looking to develop. If you’re looking to forge a close friendship then how much you disclose is up to you depending on the amount of trust developed but there is rarely much limitation. If it’s a romantic relationship, the process should be more gradual. This is because an element of secrecy is seen as more alluring in order to keep the attraction going for longer. Once you’ve reached a more stable and trusting stage you can start to self-disclose a little more.

Pay Attention to the Other Person: Remember, when self-disclosing it’s really important to pay attention to the other person’s reactions to what you’re saying. It could be through their body language e.g fidgeting or just lack of a positive reaction but if they come across as uncomfortable as a result of your self-disclosure, then it’s important to adjust it accordingly. They may feel it’s too inappropriate or too soon to open up. Remember, everyone is different and it doesn’t mean a negative reaction automatically equates that the relationship can’t get past the initial stages. Sense the type of person that they are and self-disclose at the appropriate pace.

Reference

[1] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: A neural link between affective understanding and interpersonal attraction
[2] Wiley Library: The benefits of turn-taking reciprocal self-disclosure in get-acquainted interactions

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

6 Reasons Why Perfectionism Kills Your Productivity

6 Reasons Why Perfectionism Kills Your Productivity

Perfectionism sounds like a first world problem, but it stifles creative minds. Having a great idea but doubting your ability to execute it can leave you afraid to just complete and publish it. Some of the most successful inventors failed, but they kept going in pursuit of perfection. On the other end of the spectrum, perfectionism can hinder people when they spend too much time seeking recognition, gathering awards and wasting time patting themselves on the back. Whatever your art, go make good art and don’t spend time worrying that your idea isn’t perfect enough and certainly don’t waste time coming up with a new idea because you’re still congratulating yourself for the last one.

1. Remember, perfection is subjective.

If you’re worried about achieving perfectionism with any single project so much that you find yourself afraid to just finish it, then you aren’t being productive. Take a hard look at your work, edit and revise, then send it our into the world. If the reviews aren’t the greatest, learn from the feedback so you can improve next time.

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2. Procrastination masquerades itself as perfectionism.

People who procrastinate aren’t always lazy or trying to get out of doing something. Many who procrastinate do so because perfectionism is killing their productivity, telling them that if they wait a better idea will come to them.

3. Recognize actions that waste time.

Artists and all creative people need time to incubate; those ideas will only grow when properly watered, but if you’re not engaging in an activity that will help foster creativity, you might just be wasting time. Remember to do everything with purpose, even relaxing.

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4. Don’t discriminate against your worth.

No one is actually perfect. We often have tremendous ideas or write things that move people emotionally, but no one attains that final state of being perfect. So, don’t get down if your second idea isn’t as good as your first—or vice versa. Perfectionists tend to be the toughest critics of their work, so don’t criticize yourself. You are not your work no matter how good or how bad.

5. Stress races your heart and freezes your innovation.

Stress is a cyclic killer that perfectionists know well because that same system that engages and causes your palms to sweat over a great idea is the same system that kicks in and worries you that you’re not good enough. Perfectionism means striving for that ultimate level, and stress can propel you forward excitedly or leave you shaking in fear of the next step.

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6. Meeting deadlines beats waiting for perfect work.

Don’t let your fear of failure prevent you from meeting your deadline. Perfection is subjective and if you’re wasting time or procrastinating, you should just finish the job and learn from any mistakes. Being productive means completing work. You shouldn’t try for months or even years to perfect one project when you can produce projects that improve over time.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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