Making Friends Through Self-Disclosure

By Collin Bro
Communications Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

two people talking to each other

You won’t find an algorithm that lays out the perfect moment for self-disclosure, but knowing when to reveal yourself is an excellent communication skill to have. Those who do this well are known to build relationships quicker than those who cannot break the monotonous chatter about sports and the weather.

However, knowing when to open up is never as easy as it seems. Too soon, and you could scare the other person away; too late, and you might never get the chance. Although a difficult task for some, knowing how to answer one of the most difficult questions involved in disclosing can help: When?

The other day at work I met a new coworker, with whom I had yet to work with. Seeing that it was a slow day, I decided I would get to know him more. So, I introduced myself.

We started with the basics of small talk: How cold it’s been getting, how much GCU is growing and, my personal favorite, whether or not he had “caught the game last night.” But then I did something that, for me, was unusual. I opened up to him about problems I was having in my relationships with family, friends and my girlfriend.

To my surprise, he didn’t miraculously have somewhere he needed to be. In fact, he responded by sharing his own personal problems. In the 15 minutes we had gotten to know each other, I felt closer to him than the 15 other people I had known for a year. Why is this?

When we self-disclose, we take personal information and place it into the hands of someone else – typically someone we like or want to know more about. In essence, this is an act of trust, an element necessary for any relationship. The reason this works so well is due to the “reciprocal effect” of self-disclosure (Burger, 2015).

Maybe you’ve heard that communication is a two-way street, and it’s no different for self-disclosure. When we see that someone is opening up to us, we naturally want to return the favor. This is the beauty of self-disclosure.

The truth is, there really is no perfect moment to open up. It’s all just a matter of taking the risk, because more often than not, that risk will pay off with a fulfilling and lasting relationship.

Interested in learning more about communication and your opportunities to earn a communication degree? Learn about an education at Grand Canyon University by visiting our website.


Burger, J. M. (2015). Personality (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning.

More about Colin:
Collin Bro is a sophomore working toward a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in marketing at GCU. Currently, he works in the GCU Arena as one of the many smiling faces of guest services. When he’s not on campus, he can be found on the golf course working on his stroke, or in Canyon Coffee, flipping through pages of the latest Stephen King novel. Although he now resides in Gilbert, AZ, he moved from Wisconsin in 2011, and has also lived in Iowa. He has not yet been reported to miss the cold weather; however, he is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers and can often be spotted around campus sporting his cheesehead. Collin is also involved in the Oasis Church’s homeless ministry, where he never grows tired of helping those in need. Most importantly, Collin looks forward to what the Lord has planned for him in his upcoming years at GCU.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.