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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 August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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