Disclosure serves a second important function with regard to personal learning. The people to whom we disclosure have witnessed what we disclose. This is often overlooked as a benefit of disclosure. Mary Belenky and her colleagues write about the tendency of many women to live silently in their world. These women retain a very large Quad Three.
They don’t feel they have permission to share their own perspectives and their own personal learning with other people. As a result, they not only have no setting in which to test out their personal learning, they also have no one to honor and affirm this learning. When we share ideas in a public manner, these ideas take on more power and we are more likely to act on these ideas. When we remain silent, according to the American school, the ideas are likely to atrophy—much as in the case of Quad Three strengths that we do not share.
Building Interpersonal Trust
The American school offers a third benefit with regard to the movement of Quad Three material into Quad One. Disclosure helps to build all three forms of interpersonal trust. Trust in one’s intentions tends to increase because I have been willing (and apparently want to) share information about myself. In many instances, this is because I want to improve or enrich my relationship with the other person (and believe that disclosure will contribute to this process of improvement or enrichment). Trust in competency is also likely to increase with disclosure. I demonstrate that I know how to disclose in an appropriate manner. Finally, disclosure tends to enhance trust with regard to perspective. Both parties in the relationship demonstrate through their mutual disclosure that they value disclosure and Quad One. They are both operating in the “American” spirit.
This latter dynamic becomes particularly important (and often a source of considerable difficulty) when an interpersonal relationship is being established between two people from different cultures. I know that I must be very thoughtful and careful about what I disclose when working with colleagues from Taiwan. As I have noted previously in this book, the men and women I work with from Taiwan are much more candid than I am about certain matters (such as their personal financial success) and much less candid about other matters (such as their disinterest in an idea or project I am proposing). While the “American” spirit of disclosure is becoming more prevalent throughout the world (as are many other American values and norms of interpersonal relationship), there are still important cultural differences with regard to Quad Three material. The American school is sometimes quite naïve about these cultural differences.