How much do we share and why?

Hi, I’m Lauren. I tend to overshare.

I often find myself telling people I’ve just met about the struggles I’m facing in my relationships or my dreams from the night before. Lately, however, I find myself sharing less and less of myself. You might wonder, why is that?

Earlier this year, I heard Brene Brown speak at an International Coach Federation (ICF) conference and since then, I subsequently read her book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” which dives into the world of shame and vulnerability. One of Brene’s statements in her book really struck me as I started to think about why we share, what we share, who we share with and when we share: “When we over share, it’s an act of something else – we are desperate to connect,” she writes.

Yet, what is the fine line between sharing enough and too much?

An act of under-sharing can seem stand-offish, disengaged or disinterested.

An act of over-sharing can seem effusive and self-centered.

I used to think that by sharing a lot of myself with others helped form connections. For example, by sharing my dating trials and tribulations I would feel a sense of camaraderie. By sharing something personal to me (sometimes, very personal!) might help others gain insights into my personality and who I am. I didn’t realize that over sharing could actually, in a counterintuitive way, hinder my goals of connecting and building relationships in an authentic manner.

Me, after sharing a few anecdotes about dreadful first dates, “Isn’t this story interesting?”

Colleague: “Why is she telling me this?”

Nowadays, I might allude to recent adventures on a trip to Spain, but I won’t go into details about … (that was a practice in leaving out details).

What I’ve realized is that by sharing too much, as a way to bring people in, can actually lead to mistrust and a sense of disconnection. Instead of forming a deeper connection through the interaction, the person on the other end feels removed – from me and from the content I’ve shared. My desire to connect overlooks the need for a connection to be based on something that we really share, versus what I share. 

Sharing is not connecting. And over-sharing may undermine efforts to make real connections with others. What do you share and why?