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Self-disclosure is an act of making known about yourself or with new information. It is used to start a conversation with someone whom you have just got to know. This is the beginning of a relationship and familiarization is important here. You familiarize yourself with the other person by making disclosures about yourselves voluntarily. However, self-disclosure is reciprocal and when it is one-sided, a relationship is hardly possible.

Self-disclosure is important to initiate a relationship. If there is no self-disclosure from either party, a relationship is not possible. For example, someone self-discloses and both sides begin to converse about the weather and current affairs. There is no exchange of personal information. It’s up to you whether to begin a relationship by asking questions to make him or her self-disclose. If the other person is reluctant to say much about her own self, do not carry on asking. You may be looked upon as nosy.

The disclosure initially is confined to personal information that you wish the other person to know. Getting to know someone is a gradual process, so you do not usually reveal too much. Friendship is based on mutual trust. Disclosing so much at such a beginning stage will not win instant trust, it may actually frighten the other person away. It’s not what or how much you disclose that matter. What matters at this point of time is his perception of you. It makes both of you feel comfortable by not revealing too much and you will not end up regretting later. However, if the relationship deepens in the future both of you tend to be bolder in disclosures, as you know each other’s attitudes and sincerity better.

In the first round of disclosures, you impart basic information like name, what you are doing at that particular moment or place, where you work and your occupation, where you live but not the address yet, your phone number if you feel it is okay to do so, personal interests perhaps and so on.

It’s important your disclosures do not misrepresent your good personal qualities as being better or worse than they really are. Exaggerating and telling lies once discovered will not be conducive to building friendship. It pays to be accurate when you are giving an account of yourself. Sometimes, the other person can sense your lies or exaggeration, possibly by your body language. The first impression must not be negative.

Sometimes you use self-disclosure to confide in someone who is very close to you about something very private or secret, especially a personal problem because you feel you can trust them, and the disclosure makes you feel a lot better. In asking for something or a favour from someone, if you disclose your reasons for doing so, you will find people are more ready to help once they are clear about your motive for asking.

It’s normal and natural, at times desirable, to self-disclose. But self-disclosure has to be reciprocal.