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  • Writer's pictureCorinne Yeadon

Are you an open or closed book

Someone recently shared their admiration of people who were able to engage in small talk and pleasantries stating this was a skill that eluded her from the sand pit to present day. On exploring this further the realisation was that being a weather talker or waxing lyrical about home improvements held zero fascination or interest for her.

It is not uncommon in group training or learning event to begin with an ice breaker activity, which is generally of a frivolous or fun nature and involves sharing some brief personal information. Breaking the ice can often feel forced and leave people more awkward than in the first instance.

For some people there is a tendency to overshare, which can create discomfort in others at best, at worst can be risky for the over sharer. There can be a need to be liked and accepted underlying oversharing. Sometimes there exists a need to get it all out there, warts and all, in the belief that people can back off in the early stages of a relationship rather than disengage further down the line when emotions have been invested. Generalised or social anxiety can also be a trigger for sharing too much or inappropriate disclosure. The problem with over sharing is it can create vulnerability and leave people open to criticism or gossip.

For people who are neuro diverse or have learning difficulties social etiquette can be a confusing and exhausting business. It’s not always easy for any of us to read the room. My daughter is partially sighted so does not tend to pick up on facial expressions or social cues, she also has learning difficulties which means she communicates with all individuals in the same vein irrespective of them being the Queen of England or Joe Bloggs. Thankfully her brutal honesty and unfiltered declarations are generally received humorously rather than causing offence. I would go so far as saying many envy her natural ability for separating the wheat from the chaff.

It's a tricky one because how do you build meaningful relationships of trust if you avoid sharing? The key word here is ‘build.’ Trust does not happen over night. It’s a balancing act and in most cases not instinctive, that said, It is not unusual to ‘click’ with someone early on, there is a connection that is sometimes unspoken, a look a smile, that denotes a shared belief or value.

Some people are decidedly uncomfortable about emotional expression or personal disclosure irrespective of being around known people, which is their prerogative.

For some there is rebellion against fitting in and complying with societies social norms but there may still be a need to be liked and accepted. No one wants to be the lone wolf chucked out of the pack and ostracised. I guess the importance is finding the right pack where you are accepted. Whether open or closed people can be self reliant but ironically are able to care less when receiving positive regard from others.

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