Are You Revealing TOO Much?

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.

When is enough enough? Is your “truth-telling” getting you in trouble? What happens when you first meet someone? Do you get diarrhea of the mouth? Do you clam up not saying a word?

There’s a fine balance between truthfully representing your personality and making a good first impression. You need to choose your words carefully and give the right “spin” – yes, spin. This is where you begin to shape the perception others will have of you.

Two things cause perception: your experiences and what people show you. For instance, you see someone walking down the street in a three-piece suit and based on your experiences, you think he is a successful, educated, intelligent person because that’s what you learned to think. And you think that because of what he is showing you.

Later you see the same person wearing the same suit, but this time he walks into a porn shop. What do you think of him then? Yes, your perception was again altered based on your experiences and what he showed you.

Is truth-telling always the best?

How does all of this affect truth-telling? What you say and how you behave creates a perception of you that may or may not be true. So what’s the problem? Why not always tell the truth? There are times when too much is unnecessary or harmful.

Do they really need to know the past relationship issues you had with their boss? Is it helpful to you making everyone aware of the mistakes you made with a certain team member? No. But many people self-disclose to their own detriment.

There are a 5 steps to follow when considering the time (and what) to self-disclose.

Step 1: Always ask yourself, “Is this information something I wouldn’t mind seeing as the lead story on tonight’s news?” How many times have you reheard a story about you that drained the color from your face? What you put out there on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc., is permanently out there. Your first time conversations are no different. Think ahead and be smart.

Step 2: Know what is interesting about yourself that you can share. Be prepared. Make a list of your history, your stories, the details, the humorous and the serious. Be different. Everyone wants to be the “go to” person, but what is it specifically you are doing that will make you that person? What will stand out? Is “I have been married” more interesting than “I just divorced my 6th husband?” Which one gets your attention?

Step 3: Flatter them. It’s not all about you. What unique question do you want them to answer? Practice the 80/20 rule – 80 percent about them and 20 percent about you. That’s why you need to really hone in on the “about you” part because you only get 20 percent to work with.

Also flatter yourself. Present yourself in a positive light. Be upbeat and confident about various aspects of your work and life. Write out your introduction. Find what pieces work best at a first meeting. Keep in mind the setting. What works for getting a first date isn’t always the best piece of information for meeting the new CEO.

Step 4: Sharpen your non-verbal self-disclosure. What you do with your hands, feet, smile, frowns, eyes, and head is critical to the impression they will take away from your conversation. Be sure that it all matches. Are your arms crossed? Do you avoid eye contact? Practice purposeful non-verbal language that will relay a powerful message of what you want them to know about you. Open arms and palms face up indicate a willingness to explore. Get a book on non-verbal cues and study.

Step 5: Leave them wanting more. Never give away the whole enchilada. Practice sending out “teasers.” Become the Paul Harvey of you – “…and now you know the REST of the story.” Give out information that makes people curious, wanting more, and genuinely needing to get the rest of the information because they find value in it.

Remember this rule: the more you say, the more you’re required to say. When this happens, you begin to move away from the important things “they” need and you want them to hear. Keep in mind that your audience (boss, date, child, future spouse) is really interested in what’s in it for them. So, why not make that you?

[This is only one of the many powerful articles in this week's Influence It! Real Power for Women free ezine. To enjoy the full issue, jam packed with insightful information on strategies to enhance your personal and professional life to achieve ultimate success, you must be a subscriber. Sign up for your own free subscription NOW by clicking here!]

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