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THE BLOG

Oversharing Personal Info? Why we don't generally do this in the UK

conversation skills
How to stop oversharing

How to stop oversharing with friends is a skill that many of us wish to acquire. It may provide some assurance for you to know that many people are nervous about making conversation with the risk of oversharing personal information. Many of us tell ourselves not to reveal too much, yet we still find ourselves doing so!

If this is you, don't be too hard on yourself; you aren’t alone, and this article is written with you in mind. So, firstly:

 

LET'S BEGIN WITH WHAT MAKES A GOOD CONVERSATIONALIST

 The art of a good conversationalist is to be a good listener first and a confident speaker second.

Our main goal should be to shift our thoughts away from ourselves and our interests, resist oversharing, and try to make whomever we talk to feel at ease, no matter their background or job title.

A helpful analogy is to think about a game of tennis, whereby you are batting the ball back and forth to your partner, intending to find something in common.

At this stage, it should be high-level questions and an exchange of small pieces of information to 'warm up'.

 

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES THAT PEOPLE MAKE?

Most of us are taught not to talk about ourselves too much from a young age.

However, despite this, many of us need help with how to stop oversharing with friends on topics of interest to themselves in too much detail and too soon, without considering whether the subject appeals to the other person.

 

HOW DO YOU FIND OUT WHAT IS OF INTEREST?

By asking the right questions and listening intently to the answers, we should find enough information to get the conversation going.

Once the person has finished speaking, we have two options:

  1. If we need to become more familiar with the subject, it is the perfect opportunity to learn! Never be afraid to admit that you don't know about a topic; doing so shows you are self-assured enough not to pretend (and risk getting caught!). It also gives the person the perfect opportunity to shine. Ask them to tell you more, they will feel great about sharing their knowledge, and they will most likely come away thinking they had a fantastic conversation with you!
  2. If it's regarding a subject you know about and are interested in, then this is the opportunity to share your story gently; otherwise, you may be in danger of one-upmanship. Share your part on a high level, then ask the person a question to get their involvement. Remember the game of tennis, back and forth.

If you struggle with how much to share, then it is worth considering the three types of conversation levels:

 

INFORMATION LEVEL

This is when we talk about things and their place in time, exchange news and facts, and report on our experiences moving through and living in the objective world. It's where our conversation should sit at the beginning of any interaction with a new person, and we may never actually move from this level with that person.

 

PERSONAL LEVEL

This is where we talk about how we feel about the content at the informational level, and it is a subjective experience. When we share from a personal level, we invite the other person to connect with us more profoundly. You may move to this with a new acquaintance, and this is what I would refer to as 'clicking' with someone.

 

RELATIONAL LEVEL

The relational level applies the identifying and naming of emotions from the personal level to the present moment and space.

  • What's happening now?
  • How am I feeling at this moment?

It's improbable that you would move to this level the first few times you meet someone.

One piece of advice I would like to give is to write and practice a social elevator pitch, which will also help you learn how to so stop oversharing with friends. This is when you rehearse what you might say to people when you first meet them; brainstorm topics that interest you, write out the speech and record yourself speaking and consider:

  • Does it contain jargon?
  • Is it too much information?
  • Are you happy giving this much information about yourself to a stranger?
  • What question could you ask them to bring them into the topic

It's about preparing in advance so that you can feel confident, focus your attention on the other person, and reduce the risk of oversharing; the epitome of social graces and building new relationships!

Becoming a good conversationalist is not a science; it's an art that anyone can learn, so have fun, and remember to wait a while to reveal your personal information. With practice, you will soon learn how to stop oversharing with friends.

 

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