Remember when we used to say "TMI" to indicate when a person was providing "Too Much Information"? This information isn't data that bores people to sleep. This was personal information that was too intimate to share out loud with other people. We all know someone who talks too much, but sometimes there are people who say too much. Within minutes of sparking a conversation, they've revealed some private tidbit that is best kept to themselves. It becomes awkward for the listener, especially if that listener is you.
Situations like this become most challenging at work. Imagine sitting in front of an important client with a coworker who uses no filters, and he launches into some quip about his girlfriend and his wife's complaints about him. He thinks he's being funny, but the client offers only a wry smile and a "what's-up-with-this-guy" look. You are immediately embarrassed for him, and you are frantically searching for a way to shift from his awkward statements and back to the business at hand.
We've all been there. Some of you may be bold enough to say, "Hey, that was weird. Can you not do that again?" Or "You're oversharing again. Can you put up the filters? You made the customer squirm." But others of you are too polite to say anything, and you struggle with how to handle the situation. Maybe you're the person who overshares, and you've heard these complaints at times in your life. What has to happen to avoid this situation playing itself out over and over again?
There are at least two things you can do.
1) Tell the person. Don't do it out of frustration because you've had enough. But go to him or her calmly and explain that sometimes they share too many intimate details that are best left outside of the workplace. Establish boundaries for them by giving examples of when their sharing has shifted the momentum in a meeting or detracted from the importance of a topic.
2) Recommend coaching so a professional can help the individual work on this habit that can be annoying and even costly at work. Customers may feel overwhelmed by this behavior and choose not to work with your company because of it.
Being talkative is a challenge in itself. Add a person who says inappropriate things at inappropriate times, and the conversation takes a dive in quality. If you need a coach to help you with oversharing, contact us at www.thesharpersolution.com. We can help.