The most basic form of self-disclosure is the Declarative I-Message - your disclosure to others of your beliefs, ideas, likes, dislikes, feelings, thoughts, reactions, etc. Declarative I-Messages are statements which let other people know better - let them know how you feel and where you stand.
Some examples of Declarative I-Messages:
I love to dance.
I don't enjoy violent movies.
I'm spiritual, but not religious.
I'd like to learn to speak French.
There are so many candidates running, I don't know who to vote for.
I enjoy hearing him give a talk because he's so articulate and funny.
And important use of the Declarative I-Message is to convey positive feelings of appreciation, pleasure, gratitude, relief or happiness to others in the form of Positive I-Messages. Unlike praise which uses labels and judgments, Positive I-Messages focus on the person's behavior and can also include the positive effects on you. Positive I-Messages are a way of acknowledging others' contributions.
Some examples of Positive I-Messages:
I really enjoy going on hikes with you.
It's a relief to know you got home safe; I appreciate your calling to let me know.
Talking with you has made my day; I value your insights so much.
I really appreciate your staying late to finish that order because we were able to make the deadline and that's a huge relief to me.
Most of our Declarative I-Messages are simple, natural expressions of what we are experiencing. In our close and intimate relationships we share many self-disclosures each day. What we are willing to disclose, of course, varies with the kind of relationship we are in and the setting in which we find ourselves. In short, we exercise a lot of judgment in disclosing ourselves to others.
Self-disclosure is obviously easiest when we perceive that others share or will agree with our own experience. It becomes more difficult and anxiety-producing when we risk disagreement and resistance from others. We don't want to open ourselves up to judgment, evaluation or criticism. Willingness to self-disclose, then, is largely determined by our feelings of trust of the other person.
As you become more self-disclosing you will find that others are more willing to disclose their experience to you. You will discover how similar you are to - and how different you are from - others in your feelings, hopes, perceptions, etc. Generally, self-disclosure draws people closer together.
In addition to these advantages, your self-disclosure helps you know yourself better, makes you more aware of how you feel, where you stand. As a result, you are in a better position to meet your important needs.