Communicating Effectively: On Being Extremely Private

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


“Unlike many people I know, I’ve never gotten into trouble for shooting off my mouth, ” William boasted. “But now my girlfriend says she’s tired of ‘trying to pry information out of me.’ I don’t want to lose her, but can’t she just get used to the fact that I’m a very private person?”


What does “I’m a very private person” imply? Frequently, it means that the individual is closed in and has impenetrable walls around him or herself.

Most people grow upset when they feel someone has intruded or encroached on their personal domain. This reaction is quite normal and understandable. Part of democracy and freedom is the right to personal privacy. We want to be able to decide in whom we confide and what we entrust to them. Who would relish the idea of being spied on so that sensitive personal information becomes public knowledge?

Nevertheless, the desire for privacy can be taken too far. Some people always want to be seen in a good light. They go out of their way to hide shortcomings, covering their mistakes, and almost never saying what they really mean, because they want to be sure to please and impress others. Such people are apt to be tense, anxious, and suffer from poor self-acceptance.

It is truly amazing how far some people will go. They may literally be unwilling to answer a simple question such as “What did you eat for breakfast?” “What business is that of yours?” might be the retort. (That’s one obvious or extreme example of a “very private person! “)

• In general, people who are not particularly secretive, who are open and willing to say what they mean and mean what they say, are psychologically healthier than their tight-lipped counterparts.

But do not take as good role models those blabber~mouths who tell anyone and everyone their entire life history and instantly reveal their most personal feelings.

• Try to be a little more open, to take the risk of letting others in.

Open some gates and windows in your walls. You are entitled to privacy, but being too private can make you needlessly anxious and depressed. In addition, being too private is unlikely to invite close friendships and the give and take of love and sharing.


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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