Have you ever felt uncomfortable while your colleague shared something deeply personal? Have you ever felt as if somebody pushed you to share personal information without an apparent reason?
You may have encountered oversharing.
Vulnerability is a vital strength for leaders and anyone who wants to build strong connections, trust, and, with that, a sense of psychological safety. Psychological safety catalyzes engagement, performance, and many other desirable outcomes. So sharing with others and showing up as a vulnerable human being is key.
However, I’ve witnessed many people mistake vulnerability for oversharing. Oversharing can have a counter effect on people feeling uncomfortable, losing trust and alienating relationships.
So how do you make sure to hit the right balance?
I am a private person by nature.
When I started in corporate environments, I was in my 20’s and searching for the life I’d like to lead. My personal life wasn’t stable and neither was I. I was experimenting to figure out what elements I chose to invite in.
It was a different ball game🏐 in the professional area: I had clarity in expressing who I was. I focused on learning, growing, and delivering my best under any circumstances.
I felt that disclosing my “less than orderly” life outside the office’s walls would not be seen favorably among other professionals who all seemed perfectly together. As I was reaching higher levels of management, I was afraid of judgment.
So I strictly shared only information relevant to the professional sphere.
I’ve received a misbalanced panel review. I have hit all the points in terms of achieving results. However, people have seen me as detached and even arrogant. My manager at that time spared me the details as, knowing me well, even he felt uncomfortable finishing the lines on how I was perceived.
Being vulnerable and sharing is critical to forming deep, trusting connections. Developing such relationships is necessary for even your best efforts to succeed; otherwise, they will cost you much more energy than necessary.
I adapted and balanced my focus on results with a focus on creating strong connections and allies. I was clear that I couldn’t go into full sharing after putting up walls and that I had to test the waters first. Inevitably, it felt awkward at first. Today, forming deep, trustful partnerships is the highlight of what I do.
How to keep the balance right?
As I wanted to avoid oversharing, I knew I needed to form some criteria for deciding what and when I share. Here are a few tips I collected on my search and tested by my experience:
👉Be clear about your motives. Ask yourself: Why am I sharing this? What outcomes do I desire?
👉Consider whether your intentions align with your values
👉Challenge your clarity on whether your sharing will help form a better understanding and stronger connection
👉Is the setting you are in the right for this sharing?
👉Is the state of the relationship right for this sharing? Is there enough trust created already?
Being authentic means finding the courage to be vulnerable and picking up the curtain on your life and thoughts even when the result is uncertain. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you’ll start using social media and your colleagues as if they were your therapist.
There is a balance to strike. ⚖️ One that you can only find out by taking the courage to get out of comfort and figure out what’s right for you. Strong connections are worth it – for you as a human and for your bottom line.
P.S.: This post is another step out of my comfort zone – let me know if this was a meaningful message for you by giving a thumbs up or leaving a comment. Thank you!