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Leadership and self-disclosure

Hello guys,

to build relationships, you must not only spend time with people but disclose information about yourself that could be used against you (self-disclosure). When you are constantly one-upping others, they do not trust you not to hurt them in case you open up.

This is a social mistake I've done many times in the past. I wanted to have a laugh and tease, but I actually hurt people unknowingly. It's a matter of calibration. I learned it in my job.


  • Friend: well, my grand-mother is not feeling too well.
  • You (makes a joke): She wanted to run to the supermarket, slipped on ice and broke her hip? Hahaha

Effect: you made fun of his grand-mother he obviously care about. The other person will not self-disclose further, you will not increase bond and trust.

What to do instead: listen. Resist the temptation to make a joke. 

This might not be the best example I believe, but you see the point.

Conclusion: when people are vulnerable with you, listen. They are giving you a gift that you could use to hurt them. And this is something to be valued and respected to the highest point. When people share intimate information with you, they're offering you a gift of high value. Don't shit on it. I made this mistake a few years ago, I do my best not do it again.

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Very true, great post, John!

I think the "one-upping" issue is especially bad with leaders, since we expect and seek leaders who are magnanimous, super-partes (impartial), and welcoming. Pulling us up to their level, rather than crushing us down.

And it's twice as bad when the one-up follows an act of self-disclosure, which is always an act of trust and vulnerability. The victim of the one-up will learn that "this is not the type of person to get close to".

Matthew Whitewood, John Freeman and bluesky have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn Freemanbluesky
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I am very much on the same page on this.
Emotional intimacy seems rare in today's world.
I can say that it is one of life's greatest pleasures.

I enjoyed Lucio's article on How to Build Deep Emotional Connection.

One can keep the emotional intimacy of long-distance friendships/relationships through an open, understanding, non-judgemental attitude.
I once had a 5-hour video conference with a very good friend.
It's very pleasurable to know that you can pick up the phone from anywhere in the world and have deep emotional conversation.

I'm linking this thread because it has some points at the end on how to sound kind and empowering at the same time.
It is actually focused on covert power moves that are kind but disempowering.
Which spurred a thought on how to be kind and empowering at the same time when someone is vulnerable.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman