When to Share Your Thoughts (And When Not To)
Has anyone ever called you a blabbermouth? Hopefully not, because that’s unabashedly rude… but if you’re one of those people who has a hard time keeping their mouth shut, you may have thought this before: “When’s the right time to express myself?”
Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple answer to that. The answer is when it helps you achieve what you want. Chances are, if you’re a constant thought-externalizer, you probably don’t think much about whether your stories, ideas and conversations are in service of your goals. You might not even think about speech as a goal-oriented process.
But it is! So: if you’re an over-sharer and want to know how to turn your conversations into more purposeful exchanges that leave you feeling accomplished, here are some quick tips to help you do so.
1. Start with purpose
You may not think about it this way, but all of our conversations have a purpose. Even if it’s just small talk, the goal is to develop an improved relationship with the person you’re speaking to. At the same time, most of us don’t actually define the purpose of our conversations before we speak. We simply talk aimlessly on auto-pilot, and over-sharers tend to do it the most of all.
No more of that! From now on, your goal as a conversationalist is to go into every single communicational exchange with a purpose. If you’re speaking to your spouse, you might simply define your conversational intent as improving your relationship. Or, if you’re talking to your team, you might define your purpose as showing them that they are capable individuals.
The goal is yours, and explicitly defining your goal will help you recognize which conversations are actively pushing you toward your goal and which aren’t. Keeping that goal as your conversational “North Star” while you speak will help you from getting off-track during an important conversation.
2. Choose the right sounding board
Just as important as choosing the goal of your conversation is determining its recipient. If you’re currently working through marriage problems, the best person to vent to about them probably isn’t your spouse. At the same time, if you want to talk about a difficult coworker, maybe a team member who is close with them isn’t the best sounding board, either.
Choosing the right person to share to is one of the simplest ways to stop oversharing. After all, if you’re telling the right person pertinent information that they want to know, it’s not oversharing — it’s just sharing.
3. Ask yourself critical questions
Another ingredient in the over-sharing matrix involves asking yourself critical questions. In addition to questioning the purpose of each conversation you have, you should be asking yourself the following, too:
- What am I trying to grow here?
- What am I actively nurturing with this conversation?
- Does my current approach serve it?
- What different approaches could serve it even better?
- Am I accurately construing my thoughts?
- Is this a conversation brought on by emotional spontaneity, or has it been carefully constructed?
Now, some of these questions might look a little rigid — does every conversation really need to be premeditated? The answer is no, of course. But when un-learning a tendency to over-share, it helps to critically assess your conversations. Eventually you’ll be able to automatically make better judgments about the kinds of conversations that require your ultimate attention, and which require less effort.
So, think of these questions as “training wheels,” in a way. You won’t need to use them for every exchange you have — but it helps to start with diligence!
Externalizing thoughts: a conscious choice
At the end of the day, choosing which thoughts you express and which you don’t is a conscious decision that is in your hands. Turning it into a choice instead of your default behavior is one of the easiest ways to take charge of your over-sharing habit and turn it into a power that you can turn on and off as necessary. It’s about giving you control over your own conversations so that you are in the driver’s seat instead of riding shotgun while your mouth takes the wheel.
Want more top-notch communication advice? Check us out for specific, tailored feedback from a hand-picked coach who can help you move through problems like over-sharing and more.