Self-disclosure is communication which describes you, your inner experiences, literally--your self. Self-disclosing messages are about your beliefs and ideas, your likes and dislikes, your feelings, thoughts, and reactions. Self-disclosing message let your children and others know how you feel and where you stand.
Self-disclosure is obviously easiest when we perceive that others share or agree with our own experience. Asserting ourselves is more difficult when we risk disagreement and resistance from others. We often fear opening ourselves up to possible judgment, evaluation, or criticism from others. Should I tell my husband how I feel about certain things? What might result? Can I share my values with my teenager without "turning her off"? Can I tell my friend about her irritating behavior without losing her friendship? Can I speak up at the school meeting without others feeling I'm a "trouble maker"? These are hard, sometimes frightening decisions to make. Our willingness to self-disclose, then, is largely determine by our feelings of trust in the intentions of the other person to support us or hurt us.
Ingredients of Effective Communication
You want your communications to be heard, understood and responded to in positive ways. Three key ingredients make this possible as well as help you to build and keep strong relationships with your children, partner and others. These communication ingredients include being:
- Clear - simple uncomplicated and understandable. You as the sender need to be sure that what you are saying is presented in a way that makes it easy for the receiver, child or adult, to get your message and it's meaning. Keeping your communication short and simple saves time and prevents frustration.
- Congruent - what you think and feel is what you need to show and say. When you tell our child one thing but your face and body language say something else, it sends mixed messages and creates confusion. Children as well as adults usually believe what they see over what is said if the send is not congruent.
- Connected - it is important to be aware of who you are talking to and how that child or adult communicates. You as the sender need to be on the child's "wave length", communicating at his speed and using words and language the child or other person is comfortable with. If your child feels you are connected to her and her world, she will be much more apt to pay attention and listen to what you have to say.*
Find out Thursday what the benefits are for you and your relationships when you Self-disclose...
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. Participant Workbook