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Awkward! When Is Sharing At Work Just TMI?

We’ve all been there at that awkward moment. We’re standing waiting for the conference room door to be unlocked for the meeting, and Lisa asks Joan if she missed work yesterday because she was ill. Joan answers with, “Oh yeah! I had this awful stomach bug that…” and she proceeds to give everyone the gruesome details of exactly how the bug affected her. Awkward!! Way TMI.

Joan made the crucial mistake of over-sharing personal details. It’s easy to do, especially when we strive to maintain close professional relationships with our business contacts. Our friendliness and positive attitudes are what make us such outstanding customer service gurus, in-house as well as outside the company.

We must, however, remember that every detail is not necessary to get our point across. In Joan’s case, it would have been more appropriate to say, ‘Yes, I had some kind of 24-hour bug, but I’m much better now, thanks. I’m looking forward to this meeting.’ Not only did she keep the details to herself, but she turned the discussion back to work-related matters.

Just about everyone knows that TMI stands for ‘too much information.’ It’s become a computer meme, even a worldwide joke, but it’s not really a joke. Many people often chatter on, without thinking about how what they are saying is affecting their listeners.

Whenever a business conversation becomes personal, remember this alternative
TMI:

Turn the conversation back to business. A personal anecdote can make a point or support an idea during a conversation, but the focus of the conversation is business.

Marshall your thoughts before you speak. Think ahead to any details that might just be too much for the situation, and remove them from your statements.

Indicate your reluctance to go into too much detail by changing the subject.

By considering TMI whenever you get the urge to over-share, you’ll be able to avoid being considered a chatterbox, and your listeners will be thrilled that you didn’t gross them out or embarrass them.

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© Shirley Taylor.
Shirley is a high-energy, high-content speaker who is passionate about motivating individuals to make a real difference in our automated world. With inspiring stories and a fun style, she engages audiences quickly, and encourages them to embrace high-touch as well as high-tech so they can connect with heart.

Shirley has been a trusted member of the professional speaking and training community for many years, and has received several awards for her services in leadership. She served as Asia Professional Speakers Singapore President 2011-12 and as Global Speakers Federation President 2017-18. She has spoken in almost 20 countries all over the world.

Author of 12 books published by international publishers, Shirley has established herself as a leading authority in workplace communication, business writing, and email. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition has sold over half a million copies worldwide and been translated into 17 languages.

If you would like Shirley to speak at your next event, visit shirleytaylor.com.

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