Communication Strategies: Self-Disclosure Dangers

In weighing any decision to self-disclosure, consider the potential dangers:

Personal Risks
The more you reveal about yourself to others, the more areas of your life you expose to possible attack. Especially in the competitive context of work (or even romance), the more that others know about you, the more they’ll be able to use against you

Relationship Risks
Even in close and long-lasting relationships, self-disclosure can cause problems. Parents, normally the most supportive people in most individuals’ lives, frequently reject children who disclose their homosexuality, their plans to marry someone of a different race, or their belief in another faith. Your best friends—your closest intimates—may reject you for similar self-disclosures.

Professional Risks
Sometimes self-disclosure may result in professional or material losses. Politicians who disclose that they have been in therapy may lose the support of their own political party and find that voters are unwilling to vote for them. Teachers who disclose disagreement with school administrators may find themselves being denied tenure, teaching undesirable schedules, and becoming victims of “budget cuts.” In the business world self-disclosures of alcoholism or drug addiction often result in dismissal, demotion, or social exclusion.

Remember too that self-disclosure, like any other communication, is irreversible. You cannot self-disclose and then take it back. Nor can you erase the conclusions and inferences listeners make on the basis of your disclosures. Remember, too, to examine the rewards and dangers of self-disclosure in terms of particular cultural rules. As with all cultural rules, following the rules about self-disclosure brings approval, and violating them brings disapproval.

1 comment:

Christian Fey said...

Great point! Too many times I find myself kicking myself in the pants the day after talking to someone thinking that maybe I shouldn't have mentioned something I did. One tends to assume that just because you are saying something in good faith, the other party will reciprocate that good faith. Not always is that the case.

Thanks for the post!