Deciding what to share

There is no rule of thumb for how much—or what type—of information you should disclose. Indeed, transparency is such a powerful bonding agent that sometimes it doesn’t matter what is revealed—even information that reflects poorly on us can draw our conversational partners closer. In research Leslie conducted with HBS collaborators Kate Barasz and Michael Norton, she found that most people assume that it would be less damaging to refuse to answer a question that would reveal negative information—for example, “Have you ever been reprimanded at work?”—than to answer affirmatively. But this intuition is wrong. When they asked people to take the perspective of a recruiter and choose between two candidates (equivalent except for how they responded to this question), nearly 90% preferred the candidate who “came clean” and answered the question. Before a conversation takes place, think carefully about whether refusing to answer tough questions would do more harm than good. 

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