oversharing at work

TMI? Take Care Not to Overshare at Work

2 min read

February 28, 2024

Have you ever been conversing with a professional colleague and suddenly felt yourself saying a little too much? Perhaps you’ve tried to share a relatable anecdote and realized halfway in that it’s not all that relatable. Or maybe you’ve disclosed a habit that should have stayed personal.

If you’ve found yourself oversharing at work, you’re not alone. Work relationships are a significant part of our lives, so it makes sense that employees want to make connections with their coworkers. But it’s important to distinguish between being transparent with your feelings and making others uncomfortable with the conversation.

Isolation, Mental Wellness, and Oversharing

The shared experience of the pandemic led many professionals to appreciate isolation's impact on their mental well-being fully. Many felt more open to discussing burnout, loneliness, and work-life balance challenges, knowing their coworkers were in the same boat.

These feelings, amplified by the catalyst of lockdown – and, conversely, the stresses of working on the front lines – have normalized conversations about mental health. Employers are taking note. Seventy-one percent of workers believe their employer is more concerned about their mental health than in the past.

Paradoxically, remote work is one of the most significant benefits of mental wellness and one of the most considerable stress causes. Workers prize the flexibility of hybrid work but often feel isolated from their in-office colleagues. Seventy percent of remote workers feel like they can’t socialize enough, which could lead to the urge to overcompensate when they have the chance.

Although mental health and other sensitive topics have become more commonplace over the past few years, workplace discussions can be a minefield. It pays to read the room (or chatroom) before speaking.

Opening up in the workplace can have its benefits and drawbacks. If you strike the right chord, the insights you share can help others who feel similar become more comfortable sharing their thoughts. This can create trust and lead to deeper understanding, critical elements for a strong team.

On the other hand, sharing too much with the wrong audience can make others feel uncomfortable at best. At worst, a miscalculated overshare can make you feel more alone. This is incredibly challenging for remote workers, who don’t have the benefit of interpreting body language over email or chat threads.

It’s always important to consider who benefits when you share a thought. Are you centering yourself in the conversation (as did the “Crying CEO” when he posted a selfie mid-sob), or are you setting the stage for others to be vulnerable? After all, the time you spend talking about yourself takes away from listening to those around you.

Does remote work stress you out? Check out these tips for mental wellness.

Make Room for Compassion and Connection

Oversharing comes from a desire for connection, which can be especially challenging for remote or hybrid workers who don’t interact with their colleagues regularly. Ninety percent of executives believe culture and connection are lacking for their remote team members.

Leaders must set the standard for their employees, giving in-person and remote workers the space for healthy communication. Sharing emotions can bring teams closer together, and empathy from managers can go a long way to preventing burnout.

Clarity, transparency, and a little vulnerability show leaders’ humanity and lay the groundwork for employees to open up and build trust within their teams. Just look to Jacinda Arden, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, whose leadership style of strength and empathy led to one of the most well-received responses to the pandemic.

It can be challenging for leadership to walk the line between encouraging expression and opening the floodgates of oversharing. But leading with compassion and supporting employees’ mental wellness are important parts of creating a healthy work environment.

Managing Chronic Oversharers

Even if you haven’t overshared in recent memory, odds are you have a coworker you know too much about. As a manager, it’s your job to help employees feel safe sharing insights into their lives while establishing boundaries to minimize oversharing.

Creating an open and respectful communication culture starts with accessible unified collaboration solutions. Giving employees multiple communication channels keeps them connected to their coworkers, building strong team relationships and reducing feelings of isolation.

For example, gauging someone’s tone over a text thread is often tricky. Hopping on a quick video call can clear up misunderstandings and smooth ruffled feathers. It can be helpful to send a private message to a chronic oversharer to remind them to think before they speak. A thoughtful reminder can prevent them from feeling embarrassed and making others uncomfortable.

Sometimes people hold back important information because they don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable. Leaders must lead by example with emotional openness and provide their employees with safe spaces to discuss private matters. Sometimes this can mean looping HR into the conversation.

Finally, oversharing is often a symptom of a deeper need. Making well-being a priority for your company and providing resources such as video therapy or mental health days will help employees be more balanced in their communications.

Mitel’s remote work solutions help employees and managers establish open modes of communication across all channels. Contact one of our expert advisors to learn how to make substantial, healthy connections within your team.

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