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Every Monday Blogging4Jobs invites our resident Etiquette Expert, CareySue Vega (@Etiquette101), to share tips when it comes to etiquette in the workplace during our own Manner Monday segment. This segment is for the practitioner who focuses on creating a more etiquette-friendly environment.
Q – We have a few people in our office who share way too much information during both casual and business conversations. I’m afraid if they are an open-book during their conversation with me, no telling what they’re sharing with clients and business associates outside of the office. How do I tell with them that they are sharing too much information? – Mary
A – Part of the process of building business relationships is getting to know one another, engaging in polite conversations. We all want to do business with people we like, people we get along with, so sharing a little bit of personal information helps to get to know each other a bit better. But yes, as you already know – there’s a fine line, and we need to be careful in how much information we share. I think we’ve all be on the receiving end of TMI (too much information) that leaves us squirming in our shoes. And I know I have been on the giving end – sharing TMI when I realized I’d shared just a bit too much by the body language of the person on the receiving end.
If you have a supervisor you can reach out to, I would start there and ask him or her to intervene. If you are the one who needs to have the conversation, I would start with how they may be losing ground instead of gaining it by sharing too much. Here are some tips:
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To keep yourself in check and avoid being the supplier of TMI, focus the conversation on the other person. Yes, you need to speak and contribute, but by being aware and making sure you’re asking instead of telling, will help to keep yourself from sharing too much.
When getting to know someone, ask him or her some open-ended questions such as how did they become interested in the industry. If you want to talk social, ask if they’ve seen any good movies or read any good books lately. Don’t ask them if they’re married or if they have kids. That will naturally come up in the conversation if they do – then you can draw on those topics if you see the need. Otherwise, don’t ask.
When asked, tell a few things about yourself, don’t put everything out there on the table during the first meeting; leave a few things for the next time you get together. Yes, you may have a good feeling and think this is going to be a great new business relationship, and it might be. But you build quality and lasting relationships over time – not over the first few minutes.
The bottom line is that no matter, if it’s business or social, sharing too much, can turn people off and alienate, instead of attracting and interesting them.