As a motivational speaker, I try to be uplifting and inspirational. But it’s hard sometimes because people can be oblivious. Have you ever had someone corner you – someone you hardly know – and blather on, telling you his deepest, darkest. Clearly the expectation is that you’ll sit like a bobble-head doll, head bouncing up and down, and quietly listen. What?!
My mom called me the other day frustrated with a fellow golfer. She had become a victim of the OVERSHARE. “It was as if he was applying for a job. I know EVERYTHING about this man. He is a vet, has a purple heart, does 100 sit-ups every night and lost his wife last year.” Between golf shots he would come over to her cart and give her another piece of “this is my life.” She started to hit the ball to opposite sides of the fairway to get some peace and quiet.
Not only is oversharing uncomfortable, it is frustrating because it usually leads to under-listening, eye-rolling and that urge to blurt out, “Don’t you wanna know ANYTHING about me?!”
But TMIers never ask reciprocal questions. Have you ever had this happen? While minding your own business waiting at the doctor’s office, you say hello to someone and what she hears is, “Let me tell you why I am here!” After a long diatribe, the person then sits back, puts her head in a magazine and leaves you dumbfounded. I recently had a grocery store clerk comment on my cart contents and then tell me about her lazy husband. Cue the awkward silence.
What to do?
It is tough because people mistake oversharing as a shortcut to bonding. Know this… typically oversharing is not a way to instant intimacy. Rather, it’s simply inappropriate self-indulgence. You may have experienced this in person or have seen it online.
- The Honest Reply: Wow, that is a lot of personal information, and I’m not sure how to respond.
- The Empathetic Switch: That’s too bad. Can you believe how quickly February is going by?
- The Block: For online repeat TMI offenders, you can always block their posts (they won’t know) or in extreme cases, hit the “unfriend” button.
- The Mirror: Make sure you are not the perp. Whether in person or on social media, TMI is just that…TOO MUCH INFORMATION and trust me when I say, no one wants to hear about your sinus infection, sex life (okay, maybe) or see a picture of your ingrown toenail (excuse me while I vomit).
So try to keep this in mind. Venting can be healthy – within reason. Consider words like dialogue and conversation (this happens when multiple parties participate in an interchange). Remember that saying too much or the wrong things can undermine your relationships, career and business. So beware of the overshare, and when in doubt, leave it out. Oops, did I say too much?