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Communication is regarded as the most important component of any successful relationship. It is through this activity that people get to exchange ideas and express themselves to others. Communication can also be used to foster relationships between or among people. In the recent past, I have made use of communication to try kindle a friendship with one of my neighbors whom I have always wanted to get to know better. Specifically, I made use of personal self-disclosure with the hopes of fostering a deeper relationship with my friend. In this paper, I will analyze the effects that my act of self-disclosure had and the listening skills that my friend and I employed.
Impact of Self-Disclosure
Since we were familiar with each other, we did not need to engage in small talk because we both knew each other’s interests. I decided to disclose some personal information in order to influence the relationship between my neighbor and me. This was based on my understanding that self-disclosure plays an important role in constructing the kind of relationship that one has with others (Greene, Valerian & Alicia, 2004).
I expected my neighbor to also reciprocate by disclosing something personal about herself. My expectation were based on the dyadic effect which indicates that “one person’s disclosure input encourages another’s disclosure, which, in turn, may encourage the first person to disclose more, and so on” (Greene et al., 2004, p.410). The reciprocal process of disclosure contributes to the development of a relationship since the parties involved end up gaining a deeper understanding of each other.
The kind of climate present during our meeting fostered self-disclosure between us. Our verbal communication was very effective and we were both able to properly articulate our thoughts to each other. We both engaged in a confirming form of communication where we both recognized and to some extent endorsed each other’s ideas. Confirming communication also involves acknowledgement of the relevance of the other party (Adler & Proctor, 2010). We were both very accommodating of each other’s opinion and no one engaged in rationalization of any information provided. This open and non-judgmental atmosphere made the
Listening is an integral part of the communication process and it involves not only receiving the sound waves but also understanding what is being communication. Downs (2008) asserts that good listening skills are mandatory for effective communication since they facilitate understanding and prevent the frustration that may arise from the speaker feeling ignored. We both demonstrated good listening skills and engaged in active listening.
For example, both of us used non-verbal communication cues that showed that were paying attention to each other’s words. We both made use of paraphrasing; a technique that ensures that the correct message from the speaker has been understood (Greene & Burleson, 2003). We maintained eye contact and there was constant nodding to demonstrate attention to what was being said.
My friend made use of non-verbal communication to accent what she was saying. For example, when talking about the recent hospitalization of her mother, she dropped her shoulders and sighed a lot. This non-verbal communication highlighted the sense of loss and sadness that she felt. I also used non-verbal communication to enhance the communication process. Specifically, I made conscious efforts to communicate an open and friendly stance throughout the conversation. I tried not to cross my arms and leaned forward in a relaxed fashion. I also made use of periodic touches, which were meant to communicate friendship and warmth. Adler and Proctor (2010) suggest that touch during communication increases liking and boosts the likelihood of compliance.
Hindrances to Communication
However, the self-disclosure process was hindered by a poor communication habit by both of us. We interrupted each other in mid sentence when we felt that there was something to add to what the speaker had said. In my case, I would remember something because of what my neighbor had said and since I did not want to forget it, I would interrupt her train of thoughts with my ideas. Interrupting has a negative impact on the communication process since it disrupts the thought process of the speaker. This habit also suggests that one is not listening to the speaker carefully but rather looking for an opportunity to air his or her own views (Hargie, 2006). In spite of this negative communication habit, we were able to get each other’s point of view since the interruptions were not frequent.
In this paper, I have reviewed a communication session in which I made use of self-disclosure so as to foster a closer relationship with my neighbor. The self-disclosure resulted in both of us gaining a deeper understanding of each other and greatly contributed to a positive relationship between us in future. I have highlighted the effective communication skills we employed include active listening and use of non-verbal skills. However, we were both involved in the disruptive habit of interrupting each other. In overall, I can state that the self-disclosure act yielded positive results.
Adler, R.B., & Proctor, R. (2010). Looking Out, Looking In. Boston: Wadsworth Publishing.
Downs, L. J. (2008). Listening Skills Training. NJ: American Society for Training and Development.
Greene, J. & Burleson, B. (2003). Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills. New York: Routledge.
Greene, K., Valerian, L., & Alicia, M. (2004). Self-disclosure in personal relationships. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hargie, O. (2006). The Handbook of Communication Skills. NJ: Taylor & Francis.