The Dilemma of Oversharing in the Workplace

I remember being so excited the first time my manager at my first ever corporate job pulled me in for a one-on-one meeting in the conference room. I so badly wanted to prove myself and be successful and become a leader, and I couldn’t wait to hear the information that she was going to share with me.

The first few minutes of that first meeting was pretty much like I expected, but then it took a sideways turn.

She spent the next several minutes crying and sharing lots of information that I didn’t feel was really appropriate for me to hear, nor could I possibly see how this was useful for my future or anyone’s future for that matter.  

This process of oversharing happened frequently over the next 18 months! So as I became an official leader of that company, I was the complete opposite. I saw this behavior as something that I did not like to see in my leader, so I went the flip side. I then became so closed off – I wanted to be ultra professional, not show any sign of weakness or vulnerability.

And that didn’t lead to any better results than my manager’s oversharing did.

It wasn’t until years later, after lots of mistakes, lots of trial and error, that I finally recognized how to have a good balance between the two.

I see so many people, so many leaders that are scared to express some vulnerability, show that they’re not perfect all the time; that they themselves make mistakes too, for fear that they’re going to sound weak or incompetent. Look, it’s this fine balance. But I think the easiest way is if you’re crying and you are over-sharing all of your personal details, you’ve probably overstepped the boundaries.  There has to be some boundaries.

Instead, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say going to be useful for this person in any way? Or am I treating this like my own personal therapy session?

Those are the boundaries, that’s what the signs are of oversharing. So don’t hold everything in for fear that you are going to be portrayed as weak or incompetent, but find those boundaries so that you’re not oversharing as a leader or as a role model. How do you handle not oversharing? Give me a tip in the comments below.

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