The concept of self-disclosure sounds quite simple but there are some aspects about it that can be further outlined and discussed so that others can better understand the definition and the factors which might influence it. In the field of communication, there are even various different types of self-disclosure. Self-disclosure, in general and how it pertains to the field of communication, can be described as a deliberate disclosure of personal information to others (Jones, ). Self-disclosure can somewhat be determined by things as simple as what a person is wearing, how they behave, or even just a look into how someone reveals information to others both verbally and nonverbally. Simple small talk has very little risk into letting someone else know more about themselves. There are often positive effects of self-disclosure but sometimes it can lower a person’s self-esteem, make them embarrassed, or even decrease relationships between others. Sometimes people simply tell too much about themselves through communication whether it is through words or actions.
Some factors that can contribute to a person’s self-disclosure is their behavior. Sometimes people are more willing to offer additional information about themselves and openly are who they are, both verbally and nonverbally. In other cases, some people might be shyer and are more hesitant to let their personal information be revealed (Jourard, 1971). Other factors which can effect self-disclosure are that sometimes people are not healthy and can be sick physically or mentally and they might also experience alienation. People often require courage and trust to let others see who they are. (Joulard, 1971). While who a person is as far as personality, is the major contributing factor to self-disclosure. Those who have less self-disclosure are usually more social and are extroverts. Those who are more self-disclosed are typically more introverted and not as social. Culture also makes an impact on self-disclosure due to the ways that various cultures view it. Some see it as inappropriate to cry at weddings while others would not think twice to see someone cry at a wedding. If a person sometimes discloses their innermost thoughts and feelings, some cultures view it as a weakness. Gender stereotypes also emphasize self-disclosure as males seem to be more reluctant when it comes to disclosing information while females often self-disclose ore information to close friends and family members. A person’s audience can also determine how much a person disclose. Self-disclosure occurs more likely in smaller personal groups than in larger groups of listeners due to a persons’ comfortability level. (DeVito, 2012).
When determining guidelines for making one’s self-disclosures, a person will typically follow the above factors. One guideline a person might utilize is the motivation for using self-disclosure. This depends on concern for others involved as well as oneself. Sometimes the situation must be appropriate. There is a time and a place to have more intimate communication and is typically not done in the wide open in a public area, for example. One must also consider the other person who is being communicated with what their own personal self-disclosures are and be respectful of those. There also might be potential problems that could result as a problem if too much information is disclosed (DeVito, 2011). Personally, I have sometimes invaded someone’s personal privacy and what they were willing to discuss when I pushed too hard to ask them if something was wrong. Sometimes I have been in a fight with my significant other and instead of keeping quiet until we were in a private area, I was wanting the problem to be solved right then and that made the people around me see what I had disclosed about our relationship and put it on display.
When facilitating and responding to self-disclosures, it is important to try to be understanding. If someone tells you something that you are in disbelief of, you should maintain a sense of trying not to show your shock. The utmost factor of facilitating and responding to self-disclosure is to see what the comfort level of the person is with whom you are interacting with. It is pretty easy to read a person and sometimes hard discussions which lead to self-disclosure should be done in private. It is also important to try to keep things private and confidential when a person tells you not to tell something. There have been times when I have violated someone’s trust when they have disclosed something that they wanted to tell me and I have told someone else not just out of gossiping but sometimes out of concern. People are very shy with their secrets and if they tell them to you, you need to respect their disclosure.
DeVito, J. (2012, April 10). The Communication Blog. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from
DeVito, J. (2011, March 3). Communication strategies: Guidelines for making self-disclosures.
Retrieved from http://tcbdevito.blogspot.com/2012/04/factors-influencing-self-
Jones, Jr., R.G. (n.d.) Self-Disclosure and Interpersonal Communication. Retrieved April 16,
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Jourard, S. M. (1971). The transparent self. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.