“So tell me about yourself?” The common question we have all been asked. Most of us can get quite nervous when we are asked to talk about ourselves and disclose parts of who we are (especially during a job interview or meeting someone for the first time). It is important for us to have open communication so that we can build healthy, honest and happier relationships with others and also with ourselves.
Sometimes it can seem as though closing ourselves to others is the safest option. We may have experienced a lack of trust in other people or even get quite nervous about how they may judge us when sharing parts of ourselves. However, being open with our thoughts, feelings, opinions and beliefs are a way in which we can deeply connect with people to build trust and develop meaningful relationships.
What can I do to be more open?
Body language talks
- Before we discuss what we can say to others, let’s take a look at body language. Our external body language can have a lot to say about our inner selves. Closed body language such as crossing our legs, avoiding eye contact and facing away from others can express that we don’t want to communicate. This type of body language can make others feel uncomfortable to start a conversation or to ask you a question. Becoming aware of our body language is the first step in creating this change. By using open body language, others will perceive us as more approachable, warm and friendly. A simple tip is to smile more often!
Ask more questions
- For most of us, creating small talk comes naturally. We are all quite used to those daily discussions on how our day at work has been or how Melbourne’s weather changes so rapidly. Getting on a deeper level can be more difficult. Although when we connect to our closest friends and loved ones by asking deeper questions, we can increase our connection and trust in our relationships. You may want to ask about your partner’s thoughts on religion, or what your best friends think about the universe! So get creative and curious about what you might like to ask and feel free to share your opinions in return!
Stay true to you
- Building trust with others means that we need to stay true to who we are! Nobody wants to be lied to or deceived. Speak your mind in an honest and open way and it will reward you. The only way people will accept our true selves is if we show it. Don’t be afraid to talk about your quirky interests, funny memories or personal experiences. By letting others know our authentic selves they will also be more willing to share their own personal stories. You may even find that they will relate to you with a similar experience!
Important things to remember:
Take the time to listen
- Communication is a two way street. We all want to feel heard and understood when speaking our mind, so it is important that we do the same for others. Take the time to listen to others when they are sharing personal information. By showing that we are active listeners, others will feel more at ease and comfortable to share their personal stories in a safe space. Be sensitive to their feelings as they are putting their trust in you to listen.
Create a non-judgmental space
- We all want to feel accepted when sharing our inner thoughts and experiences. Try to create a non-judgmental space to show others that you are open and accepting of their opinions, to allow them to also do the same with you. Agree to disagree when necessary, it is okay for us to think or feel a different way to others, that’s what makes us who we are. Acknowledging this can create a safe space for both people to feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgement.
Consider who you talk to
- We don’t need to share things with every person we meet. Some things are personal so it’s okay if we share some parts of ourselves and hold back others. Open communication can build your trust in relationships with family members, friendships and romantic partners. Take the time to consider who it is that you would like to feel more connected with and start there. There may be times where it is helpful for us to discuss personal matters in order to get help or advice, such as speaking to a loved one or a professional such as your GP or psychologist.