So much can be gained through the safety engendered by personal disclosure. It is undeniable that when we get to know another person, we are less likely to succumb to stereotypes and projections of what is going on inside of them. In his excellent book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni notes that the first step towards establishing a cohesive team is the establishment of trust. He tells us that the barrier to this trust is the need to appear invulnerable. The solution: Display some vulnerability. How to do this?
Well, in the work-world an abundance of vulnerability is unwise and unnecessary. Yet, even such seemingly bland disclosures as where one grew up and their number of siblings can be a low-risk and valuable instrument of bonding. I recently was privileged to run a retreat for a local collaborative group and that simple “share” opened the door to later, much more significant personal disclosures about the relationships within the group. In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, the real breakthroughs of connection come when enough safety has been created as a platform, allowing the individuals to open up long withheld (often even from themselves) yearnings and vulnerabilities. These, of course will go quite a bit deeper than those aforesaid workplace disclosures.
Some months ago the New York Times ran a story about a study by psychologist Arthur Aron, which held that “sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure” deepened relationships. In order to demonstrate the power of this hypothesis, Aron crated 36 questions which he said were guaranteed to jump-start the deepening of intimacy in any relationship. They are in three clusters, each diving a bit deeper than the one before. Cluster 1 Questions include: Would you like to be famous? In what way? and Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Cluster 2 Questions include: What is your most treasured memory? and How do you feel about your relationship with your mother? Cluster 3 Questions include: Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ______” and What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? Here is the article and those 36 questions.
Now AS FOR CATS. Clearly, this does not work only for human relationships as you can clearly see in this YouTube video.