Self-disclosure in the workplace is a matter that needs excellent thought. If not well handled, it might affect one’s image and relationship within the office. Is it safe to disclose your true self and identity within your workplace? When can you do it? How does it affect your personal goals? How does it affect other coworkers? How much should personal information be revealed? These questions and more will be answered in this article.
If self-disclosure is gotten right, it can strengthen relationships, build trust and foster a long-term relationship. People can be inspired by your story and can be put into a position of a leader. If not adequately utilized, it can hurt the relationship around the workplace. So, therefore, it is essential to understand the concept properly.
What is Self-disclosure?
Self-disclosure is the process of sharing information about yourself with others, especially your coworkers, verbally or nonverbally. It involves sharing in-depth details about your personal life with some coworkers. This information could include your favorite food, religious beliefs, political stance, major turning points in your life, and so on.
Self-disclosure can be done in two ways: Verbally and Nonverbally. It can be done verbally by telling them about our beliefs, ambitions, thoughts, hope, fears, and preferences. It can be done nonverbally by the dresses we wear, jewelry, tattoos, body language, and any other indication about one’s personality or life.
Self-disclosure is often seeing as a valuable tool for sharing information. When we share information, we become intimate with others his further strengthens our interpersonal relationships. It involves sharing the good and the wrong part of us with someone else. We get to share our strengths and weaknesses with other people.
Self-discovery is a powerful tool that must be used with care and in small doses—learning when, how, and whether self-discovery is achieved by training. It requires knowledge and time to understand the people you are working with. It’s best to study and understand the kind of coworkers that you have. Not all coworkers are reasonable as you. While some will be opened to helping you, some might seek to take advantage of you.
Exposing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the workplace encourages teamwork. Workers seek to help themselves out in areas where others are lacking. Sharing of information is not always in the employee’s interest. In a research carried out by Jennifer Carson Marr (assistant professor of management and organization, University of Maryland), she deduced that information shared matters just like the person sharing it.
She discovered that when a higher figure disclosed their weakness, it is received with negativity by the majority of the followers. The relationship quality begins to deteriorate, especially when there are more capable beings among the followers. This could cause unrest among the group – by dividing it into those that appreciate your honesty and those that want to take advantage of the weakness.
On the other hand, the research shows that exposing weaknesses between workers of the same level doesn’t affect their relationship, unlike when a higher employee shares it. The relationship quality is not affected.
The professional lines between workers become blurry as they spend more time together. Nowadays, when workers can chat online, revealing one’s weakness has increased. For leaders, before you can share your weakness and vulnerability, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons. Leaders share their vulnerabilities to feel more bonded with their followers. If not effectively handled, it might lead to a damaged reputation.
Benefits of Self-disclosure in the workplace
Improved communication: For a better office experience, self-discovery helps to improve communication among workers. Workers know what could cause issues among them, so they don’t do it. There is an intimacy between the workers. When one worker opens up about their strengths and weaknesses, it encourages others to talk about theirs too. On and on, they get used to each other. Friendship is built, which will affect communication.
Settle dispute: Self-disclosure helps to settle disputes quickly. It encourages dialogue between parties involved in the dispute. Both parties can sit down to settle their dispute since their differences have been made known by self-disclosure. A dispute doesn’t last between workers who are familiar with themselves. When this is settled, the company will be an excellent place to work.
Better work experience: Nothing Will be hidden about a worker. Nothing will be unusual about workers. Workers know themselves well, and everyone knows the appropriate approach. Other workers can come to help where another worker is vulnerable.
Building teamwork: A team is not a group of disjointed people. It is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. Self-disclosure helps to increase trust, honesty, and dependence among workers. People can only work together if they trust themselves. This could be facilitated by self-disclosure. We have seen workers who see themselves as more than just coworkers. They are more blood-related. This is a product of self-disclosure in the workplace.
Increased productivity: When the company environment is free of strive, there is increase productivity. Workers are willing to work with themselves to achieve a common goal.
Good reputation: Relationships among coworkers cannot be hidden forever, it will be shown. And it could be in the presence of clients and customers. A deep understanding among coworkers will help build a good reputation for the company. There might be offenses; each worker knows how to handle the situation for peace to reign. Self-disclosure can also help while advising a client for management and relationship advisers.
To build trust: Self-disclosure helps to build trust among coworkers. If you tell someone about yourself, it will make them feel essential and trusted. Without trust, it is hard to work together.
Shows authenticity: Showing your vulnerabilities shows that you don’t have anything to hide. It makes people see how authentic you are. People don’t enjoy working with people with a hidden identity. You don’t know what makes them happy or sad. They are just there.
How to use self-disclosure in the workplace
- Wait and Observe: The first thing to do is to wait and observe your coworkers. This is important if you are working in an unfamiliar environment or new to a leadership role. Observe and understand the people around you. Pay attention to details about how many relationships exist between the workers.
- Consider your motives: While it is good to improve a relationship by self-disclosure, review your motive. Be sure you are not doing it for other unnecessary reasons. Most people do it to get attention, divert other people’s attention, gain an unfair advantage or extract information from others. People should feel safe and trusted when they share information with you. They shouldn’t feel pushed or forced by you. It should be voluntary. When sharing information, you did so willingly, and you shouldn’t be angry with them if they don’t want to share their information.
- Choose your moment and method: Moments when you share important things are important. Avoid sharing sensitive information with people when they are not concentrating on what you are saying. It doesn’t only cause misunderstanding, and it makes you feel ignored and exposed. Assess whether the timing is right or arrange a time with the person—a time when you both will be undisturbed. Also, choose the best method. Nowadays, where social media has taken over, avoid saying sensitive things on chats. Self-disclosure is best done face to face or on a video call. You will be able to monitor the person’s attention and body language.
- Go slowly: While sharing information, share with care. Don’t share too much at once so that you don’t become overwhelming for the person. Taking too much time to share might raise suspicion. Open up gradually. When you meet people for the first time, you can start by sharing minute information about yourself. Your hobbies, interests can be shared before moving to deep things.
- Listen carefully: When people come to tell you things, listen carefully. Give them wrapped attention. If you cannot concentrate when they came, politely ask them if postponing the chat to another time is okay. It would help if you made them heard and understood. Please pay attention to what they are saying so that you don’t miss details.
- Respond with care: When they tell you sensitive things, don’t be in haste to criticize them. Avoid the urge to offer mastery in advising. Give them the time and space to disclose themselves. Please don’t offer to tell your story during theirs, and it overshadows their story, which is not necessary.
The risks of self-disclosure in the workplace
There are lots of risks associated with self-disclosure in the workplace. It must be gotten right to avoid the adverse effects. People’s reactions can be unpredictable, and their responses might be offensive. Self-disclosure can put people in difficult positions and can also damage their reputation if gone wrong. The information you share might be a burden to others. It may also make people doubt your confidentiality. Some people want to hide their personal information since they know much about you.
Self-disclosure is essential for building a stronger working relationship. It is essential to weigh the pros and cons. While sharing your information, be vigilant and monitor the person you are telling. Be an active listener and don’t act disrespectfully because you know so much about them. Do you want to learn more? Join The Black Sheep Community today!