How much is too much?

Two topics which consistently come up for people I speak to are, “ I have trouble with difficult conversations” and “I received feedback that I overshare my thoughts or feelings”. The first thing I say is “good on you for wanting to explore this” and “you are not alone, the struggle is real”.

Let’s start with difficult conversations. Conversations are “difficult” when the stakes are high. The investment in the relationship is high and the topic is meaningful, which is what makes them challenging. If you needed to give a stranger directions, not a difficult conversation. You want (not need) to discuss with your colleague a conversation the two of you had last week which is upsetting you, difficult conversation. This is a really hard thing… Giving feedback also falls into this category, see previous post on giving feedback. This is such an important topic there are tons of books on crucial conversations. Pick one up, they are super helpful. A difficult conversation for one person isn’t necessarily a difficult conversation for another. And not everything needs to be talked about. In our desire to share and ‘clear the air’ we feel this overwhelming urge to have a conversation. This is where the oversharing comes in…

We mistake oversharing for being authentic, being genuine and ‘not holding back’ or ‘being afraid’ to discuss things. We want to be authentic leaders. I want to develop authentic leaders. There is so much power in sharing ourselves and thoughts. Many of us have a fundamental desire to connect with others. And this is great. Empathy and bridging gaps go a long way in building trusting, long lasting, effective relationships, where great things happen. In our quest to be genuine we must dive into our own Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is our barometer to know what the ‘right amount’ is. Of course, there is no exact science here, you need to know yourself, understand the other person, and read the situation. Easy right?? Not even close. For those of us who may be lower on impulse control and higher in emotional expression we tend to get caught in this ‘oversharing mode’. The triggers…knowing your emotions coupled with the desire to be heard, must be balanced with reading the room, anticipating the other persons response, and your greater purpose. Being authentic doesn’t mean sharing every life lesson, every thought that comes through your mind, your triggers, your emotions, or how you feel about something with those you interact with. Not everyone needs to know everything. You want to share or vent, chat with a friend, find a therapist, talk in the mirror, or meditate on it. At the end of the day, if we want to foster relationships, it involves another person, so it can’t be only about you…. Emotional Intelligence is at least 4 prongs (depending on what framework you like) and only one of them is purely about self. The rest involve others and your interactions.

When you are determining what to share or what conversations need to be had ask yourself these questions.

  • What is my motivation for sharing?
  • What is the outcome I want from this conversation?
  • What information is going to serve the outcome I desire?
  • How do I want the other person to feel in this conversation?
  • How do I think the other person will react with this information?
  • How will this serve the relationship I am trying to foster?

My 6-year-old asked me what I was writing about. I told her it was about helping people communicate openly and kindly to each other. She asked if she could help and of course I said yes. Her contribution. “You are yourself. No one can control you but you.” ~QBW

Happy Friday Eve!

If you want to talk more about Emotional Intelligence, your approach to difficult conversations, or ‘oversharing’, send me a note.

Published by rachaelsarahgass

Working mom, wife, friend, sister, organizational psychologist, learner, coach. Kindness Counts. People First. Integrity Always.

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