Communication Strategies: Guidelines for Resisting Pressure to Self-Disclose

You may, on occasion, find yourself in a position where a friend, colleague, or romantic partner pressures you to self-disclose. In such situations, you may wish to weigh the pros and cons of self-disclosure and then make your decision as to whether and what you’ll disclose. If your decision is not to disclose and you’re still being pressured, then you need to say something. Here are a few suggestions.

Don’t be pushed. Although there may be certain legal or ethical reasons for disclosing, generally, if you don’t want to disclose, you don’t have to. Don’t be pushed into disclosing because others are doing it or because you’re asked to.

Be assertive in your refusal to disclose. Say, very directly, “I’d rather not talk about that now” or “Now is not the time for this type of discussion.

Delay a decision. If you don’t want to say no directly, but still don’t want to disclose, delay the decision. Say something like “That’s pretty personal; let me think about that before I make a fool of myself” or “This isn’t really a good time (or place) to talk about this; I’ll get back to you and we’ll talk.

Be indirect and move to another topic. Avoid the question and change the subject. This is a polite way of saying, “I’m not talking about it,” and may be the preferred choice in certain situations. Most often people will get the hint and understand your refusal to disclose.

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