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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"Let me explain", says the codependent.

Reagan said, "If you explaining, you are losing". I know some people may not agree with this blog post and think I'm being too critical, but this is how I see the world.  Anyway, I don't know if it is confidence with age, dealing with a lot of adversity or sometimes physically 'feeling my age', but over time I've realized that I don't have to always explain myself or elaborate.  When I was younger I used to focus too much on explaining where I was coming from to others.  Sometimes it was making sure they understood the point I was trying to make, but other times I realize--in hindsight--that it was justifying my point of view, my perspective or my actions.  As I've gotten older, had a kid, observed others, reflected on my own actions and had others point it out, I've come to realize that I don't need to that anymore.

Before I continue with this line of thought however, I want to share a funny but sad anecdote on this matter.  One time I was at Walgreen's and I asked the clerk if she had a particular item in stock.  After looking a little, she said to me, "I'm sorry it looks like we are out".  Having the dry sense of humor I do, I said to her, "Why do you hate me?".  Obviously, I was implying that it was her fault that I didn't get what I needed and/or that she didn't care.  In short, I was being slightly difficult for humor purposes.  So, she proceeded to explain that she didn't hate me but that the store just doesn't have any of the item in stock.  Of course, I explained to her, that I was kidding.  I think most people in that situation would have recognized my facetiousness.  However, she didn't and instead personalize my comment as something it wasn't: a situation in which she needed to justify herself.  It was a bit of an eye-opener about the extremes of  'needing' to explaining oneself.  Clearly she cared too much about my opinion to note that I was being facetious.

Anyway, like I said, I realize that in life's journey that there are times in which one can over-explain.  I've touched on why I think people do that, but I will expand upon it, the consequences of it and how it can and should be handled differently.  In other words, ironically, I will explain about people over-explaining.  😉

Why (we over-explain)
  • We don't think another is following what we are saying.
    • This can be a lack of confidence as to how well we express ourselves.
    • This can be a condescending attitude towards our audience.
  • We feel a need to justify or get our perspective validated.
    • This can be a defensive pose.
    • This could be a please indicate I'm smart or praise me pose.
  • We lack substance in what we are saying and try to substitute "more words" for "more substance".

What (are the possible consequences)
  • We can expose ourselves.
    • A obvious lack of confidence can cause people to cringe, avoid us or be driven away.
    • When in a 'fight', debate or other type of competition, this can give the other side an edge If they know that you are constrained by concern for what they think, they can use that to their advantage.
    • As lacking substance or knowledge.  
  • We can antagonize others.
    • People can sense when they are being 'over-explained'  to, especially it is a function of  speaker not having confidence of his/her audience ability to follow.
    • This causes either push-back or resentment.

How (can we handle it differently)
  • We can give others the opportunity to connect the dots rather than us fully connecting the dots for them.
    • This can avoid them feeling that we are speaking down to them.
    • This can give them an opportunity to stretch their mind in some cases.
    • If we make it clear that it is safe to ask questions, they can ask us questions if they still don't understand fully.
  • We can remind ourselves that even if we aren't expressing ourselves as well as perhaps we should, that our audience will let us know if they don't understand.  
    • We may find that we have communicated our point effectively despite worrying about it.
    • If our audience is fair-minded, they will give us the opportunity to clarify when necessary.
  • We can say just as much as we need to (and not more)
    • This can avoid leaving the impression to others that we are seeking their approval (and strengthen our hand when dealing with kids or other adults.
    • Often times and audience will tune out if we say too much, but if we say just enough, they can seek out more from us.  This is especially true in dating where saying less can draw the other person who is interested out towards us.
    • It is best to explain what you know and avoid risking sounding foolish trying to explain what you don't
There are times in which it is important to explain ourselves thoroughly such as surgeon explaining precisely what he needs to his surgery team during an operation OR a math teacher going through all the steps when teaching a brand-new concept.  However, I believe that in many cases, people over-explain themselves to point of detriment to a potential love interest, their children, their family, their adversaries, potential supporters, etc for reasons specified above.  I believe that it all can be best summed up in this saying:

A man of many words is a man of few thoughts. A man of many thoughts is a man of few words.

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