Lessons From an Oversharing Leader

3 Things I’ve Learned That Will Save You Missteps

I am a talker. When I am nervous and uncomfortable I can really get going. I think this might be why people think that I am an extrovert. That is the furthest thing from the truth in reality. Solitude is one of my most favorite thing. Being alone with my thoughts, writing, books, and computer make me very happy. Being around people that are close to me makes me happy too.

The reason solitude is so appealing is because I take on the feelings and problems of others as my own without them even asking. Depending on the day this can be co-dependence or empathy. That is a lot to handle. Also, I have to watch my words very carefully because I really like to talk to people and connect on a deeper level. The unfortunate thing is that it’s not always in a persons best interest; my best interest to do so. With all that to think about, alone sounds really good more often than not. The thing is, in my line of work and with my value system retreating and avoiding people is not an option.

So, I have had to learn a few things about what it means to be transparent. Some of the lessons have been tough and have really come back to bite me, if you know what I mean. The good news, is I am a fast study and usually don’t need to bump my head more than once to learn a lesson.

Hopefully, these pearls of wisdom will save you some missteps on your journey.

Active Listening is a skill. We can feel pressured to say something and even agree with people when we engage in conversation with them. When we are actively listening, simply asking a clarifying question or making a statement that summarizes what was just said can validate for the person that you have been paying attention. This is important for showing empathy when engaging with others. Empathy does not mean agreement, it simply means perspective taking and reflecting what you heard is one way to show that you are hearing the other person.

This one is almost embarrassing! I still have to watch myself because I have a big family and with that comes a lot of stories. I don’t have to think back far to have something relatable to share. The fact is that sometimes people don’t want to hear it because life isn’t always about me. This is very closely related to point number one. Listen first and assess if this is a time for back and forth sharing or simply being present. It may not always be easy to tell; learning to pay attention to the needs of others facilitates this process.

There is a difference between connecting and being awkward

This last tip, is more from observation than experience. Yeah, I know! That sounds like I am trying to get out of admitting my faults, and I don’t blame you for thinking it. The truth is, I have witnessed this more than I have experienced it, but I have experienced it. That moment when you say something and the very moment it comes out of your mouth you wish that you could take it back. YIKES!

Fortunately, I have never said or done anything to my knowledge that was so overtly egregious that the relationship could not be salvaged or recovered. However, there have been interactions that required apologies and open dialogue about how to move forward. These conversations require courage and willing participants. Though not impossible, it is a tall order.

I am happy to report that in a world where it seems people are not always able to come together to have a conversation to settle disagreements, I myself have witnessed the opposite occur in some settings. There is hope, even among the very young.

The Bottom Line

Sharing is good, oversharing can be overbearing. The line between the two is very thin and difficult to see sometimes. There is no surefire way to avoid pitfalls and missteps. The only thing that will guard against failure is to be authentic while keeping in mind the 3 tips I shared. It would be irresponsible of me to leave out the necessity of apologizing and taking the heat as well when appropriate. Of course, you do not want to purposely step out of bounds, yet if it happens, step up and say the magic words, “my bad”.

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Kim Regis

Kim is a certified coach and leader with over 20 years of experience. Her passion is leading others toward unlocking their full potential.