Let’s say you tell someone you can’t go to their party. As an excuse you say your parents are going to be in town. Instead of getting the escape you were looking for, the person tells you to bring your parents. Now you’re stuck going to a party with your parents, and you didn’t even want to go in the first place. It wasn’t that you didn’t want to go to the party because your parents were coming, you just didn’t want to go to the party. Period, the end.
Being clear and concise is more likely to get us the end result that we want, but so many of us still find ourselves overexplaining. This tendency is a symptom of people pleasing. We think that if we explain ourselves it will soften whatever information we are sharing. We are trying to absorb any discomfort the person who is receiving our explanation may have, but more often than not, that doesn’t work.
Furthermore, we can not please everyone with our explanations. Our reasons may not be sufficient to everyone else, and they don’t need to be. Sometimes I don’t answer my phone, and I’m not doing anything that someone else would find particularly important. I may be folding clothes or watching something on TV. Those reasons may not feel valid to someone else, but the fact remains that I don’t want to talk.
Your reason is your reason. You don’t need to justify it to anyone else.
Here are three ways to spend less time over-explaining:
Take notice of when others are over-explaining.
If someone is offering you more explanation than is needed, interject and tell them, “You don’t owe me an explanation,” or “I understand you have other things going on.” This may help free you up and give yourself grace enough to know you don’t owe people an explanation either.
Pay attention to what triggers you to over-explain.
What situations prompt you to offer up more information than is necessary? Once you recognize these triggers, try to stop yourself.
Train yourself to respond in one sentence instead of a paragraph.
Sometimes when we are trying to explain ourselves, we end up talking a lot. Instead of getting to the point, we talk around it. Try saying something like, “This will not work for me today,” or “I’m not available at that time.” There is a section in my workbook that walks you through this process.
Succession is one of the best family dramas I’ve ever seen. The show centers on a family that is in business together. The father creates such chaos in the relationships with his children, by dangling the carrot that one of them may one day run the company. My two cents, he’s not going to pick any of them. He doesn’t actually think anyone else is good enough to run the company. I have really enjoyed watching it. The series is in its third season and you can watch it on HBO. Also, let me just go on the record saying I think HBO has some of the best documentaries and series on TV.
I would highly recommend the podcast Over My Dead Body: Fox Lake. This is the third season of the show and it tells the story of a police officer that seems to have died in the line of duty, but we can’t be sure. The show is very intriguing.
What is your intention when you overexplain?
What makes you want to give people more information than they’re even asking for?
Where does the idea that giving them this information will make them feel better about you setting a boundary come from?
I hope you’re enjoying the Nedra Nuggets newsletter. If you enjoyed this week’s article please leave a comment or share.
Check out my book Set boundaries, Find Peace
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