Self-disclosure is an important part of any close relationship. Without sharing our own fears and weaknesses, we can come off as cold and unapproachable. Finding common themes, in strength and in weakness, creates a bond and understanding between two people. Cindy and I have always been very good at self-disclosure. When talking one-on-one, we take time to listen to each other, showing positive reciprocity. The more we got to know each other, the more comfortable we felt divulging information. This is because we came to count on a supportive environment, where our thoughts and feelings are respected. Being able to talk through situations and be supportive gives us self-clarification and self-validation. Often this happens when one of us is feeling unsure about something, and the other is able to provide a soundboard and support, where others might try to force their opinion.
Our talks do not always have to do with the present. We often talk about things in our life that have shaped who we are. Often these things still weigh on our mind, and can be a source of doubt. By talking about them, we give these things less power over us. It serves as a catharsis, and allows us to see that we are not the only one who deals with issues from the past. Even though Cindy comes from a close-knit family, she understands and empathizes with me when I talk about problems in my own family. This ability to share our thoughts and doubts makes us closer and enhances our friendship.
Even with an open dialogue, we still have boundaries. It seems like we are both mindful in what we say, and how it will affect the other. By gauging an appropriate amount of disclosure, we are able to stay open without crossing a line. Generally, there isn’t much that I feel I could not share with Cindy, and she feels the same way towards me.
Creating an atmosphere that is open and supportive makes it easy to be open and honest. Cindy and I have done a good job in creating an environment that is “low-risk”. Because we have supported each other before in the past, and not been judgmental, there is no fear of rejection, negative impressions, decrease in relational satisfaction, loss of influence, or hurting the other person. This kind of atmosphere also makes it easier to reject alternatives that could harm our friendship. We do not feel the need for silence, lying, equivocating, hinting, or evasion. When you feel comfortable confiding in someone, these problems don’t really pose an issue.
Being able to convey your feelings when you do not disagree with someone makes it possible to work through disagreements. By using Assertiveness Techniques, we can work through a problem without placing blame or shutting down emotionally. The progression of Assertiveness Techniques goes as follows: Behavior- Give an objective description of the offending behavior without interpretation. Interpretation- Describing the meaning you have attached to that behavior. Feeling- Expressing feelings connected to the behavior and your interpretation of it. Consequence- Explain the result of the situation.
Intention- Describe where you stand on the issue and what you request of others, and give a description of how you plan to act in the future.
These steps can often diffuse a tense situation. Often, someone might not realize how his or...