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

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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.

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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 13, 2022

How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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How to Use Travel Time Effectively

Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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1. Take Your Time Getting There

As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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2. Go Gadget-Free

This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

3. Reflect and Prepare

Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

Conclusion

Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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