(First posted May 6, 2010 — and we will keep posting, thank you very much)
There is a disease spreading across America. It’s a silent killer of friendships and co-worker relationships. It strikes when you least expect it: at the grocery store, in the office, on Twitter. This preventable disease is commonly known as: too much information.
If we at Re-find could be known for only one good deed, we’d pick curing TMI. A lot of people like to blame the spread of TMI on the Internet and sites such as the above mentioned Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, but we all know that oversharing has been around for a very long time.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been within earshot of some stranger’s loud cell phone call, in which, for example, he or she is describing in detail the lancing of a boil. Similarly, we’ve been approached by a colleague who insists upon informing us of the argument he had with his wife or partner the night before or worse, about the makeup relations they had after the fight.
There are two ways to begin the process of eradicating TMI:
1) Lead by example — There is something to be said for mystery. By keeping some areas of our lives (the bathroom, the doctor’s office, the bathroom) to ourselves, not only do we allow ourselves to move through life with a bit more dignity, but we allow people to get to know us over time. Friendship is a process and if we divulge too much too soon, our relationships don’t develop organically. Also, especially in the workplace, we need to maintain a certain degree of professional distance, so that our co-workers can continue to respect us and our work and are not distracted by our latest crisis or unpleasant outpatient medical procedure.
2) Removal — When someone is oversharing with you, there is no reason you can’t politely remove yourself from the offending conversation. Just say, “Would you please excuse me for a moment,” and go to the powder room or tend to a task. Also, you can change the subject. If that doesn’t work, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll come up with a solution specific to your problem.
Let’s do our part to cure TMI.