Author Topic: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information  (Read 5145 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

demarco

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4186
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2013, 04:22:47 PM »
I used to have this problem.  Relatives, friends, acquaintances, library patrons and strangers on a plane would corner me and spew every last detail of the most outrageous stories you ever heard.  It was tiresome and sometimes alarming when it was a stranger or near stranger doing it.  I only learned how to deal with it out of desperation when backed into a corner by one of my SIL's.  I knew that this woman was a bottomless pit and I had only been spared til this moment because I lived some distance away and didn't get home often.  I think it was the first time I was ever alone with her.  She started in and I knew I was in trouble.  Instead of making polite, sympathetic noises as I usually did in these circumstances  I said nothing.  She made a dramatic statement, paused.  Made another dramatic statement, paused.  She may have made a third dramatic statement, along with another pause.  The point is, after that she quit. 

The zero response technique worked and I have used it consistently since,  when needed.  It usually works for me.  The irony is, I wasn't trying out a tactic the first time I did it. I hadn't made a decision not to respond  I was just a deer in the headlights, unable to respond, because I knew how much trouble this woman could be. 


CrochetFanatic

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 876
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2013, 05:03:42 PM »
I once had a classmate lean in so that her face was less than three inches away from mine, stick out her tongue, and turn a bit to the side to point out where she had bitten it.  I sort of leaned back, fighting the impulse to push her away, and said, "Yeah, that, uh, looks painful.  :o"  I then excused myself to the restroom (Okay, I panicked and went to hide so that I could gather my thoughts again), and prayed that she wouldn't follow me in there to tell me something worse and bathroom-related.

That might actually be "oversharing" on my part.  If so, I apologize.  ;D

Said classmate also had no filter at all, and seemed a little slow, so no one really called her on it.  She really was a nice girl, but she latched on to me for some reason, and I didn't know how to disengage without starting something.  At the time, there were only three other classmates.  I sort of wish I had found this place back then, because I might have had some idea how to proceed. 

Lady Snowdon

  • Super cool awesome title
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6019
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2013, 05:49:55 PM »
Last year, one of my friends was having issues with her marriage.  She was telling me all about her issues, and threw out that she was really worried her husband was cheating on her.  I said something about I'm sure he wouldn't, since I thought that he really wanted to stay with her.  She went on to define cheating for me, and shared that one of the situations she would consider cheating would be ... ummm... playing scrabble by yourself.  I was dumbstruck.  I don't need to know, I didn't want to know, and how on earth do you respond to that bomb?  :o  I think I stammered and said that if he knew what she had problems with, and wanted to stay with her, that I was sure he would not mess up.  Thankfully that amount of detail was never brought up again, but yeah.  Talk about oversharing!  I don't care how well I know someone, there's no reason I need to know that level of detail about someone's life!

I was caught off guard in that particular situation, but most of the time I just go very flat.  I don't make any of the appropriate noises (like Oh wow!  Oh my goodness!  Really?  gosh!) and I try to change the subject quickly. 

cheyne

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1074
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2013, 03:52:41 PM »
I, too have the "Please tell me every.little.thing about your life!  TMI OK!" sign on my forehead.

I manage a group of people.  I do NOT require anyone to tell me why they need time off, just that they do it in a timely manner so I can schedule accordingly.  I have never asked any of my workers what they were doing on their time as I don't feel it is my business.  Most people will say something like, "I need the 3rd of April off for my nephew's wedding" or some such and that is fine.

Just today I have had two conversations that I didn't want to have.  One of the men here is separating from his wife and had to tell me all about it.  I kept saying, "Honestly [name] it's none of my business.  If you need time off just let me know with a week's notice and you can have it."  He would not stop, until I made up a task that I had to do.

The second is a woman here who is TTC and went for a round of appointments (she had asked for time off last week and told me why she needed it).  I heard chapter and verse about it.  I got out of that by going to lunch.

I understand that this is how many people "connect", but I don't want any drama in my life and actively avoid it.  I may need to talk DH into helping me pay for a face lift or some other cosmetic surgery to remove the sign on my forehead.

MasterofSquirrels

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1963
  • hi.
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2013, 05:40:14 PM »
I too have a sign that says "Tell me your deepest darkest secrets and the most intimate details of your life" someplace on me. I just make the appropriate noises and walk away, slowly.

I really think that the people that latch onto strangers or near strangers need to tell someone, *anyone* that they are having problems. I think it's safe for them, they know you won't see them again, or see them soon, they know that you don't really care, so you are not likely to gossip, and they can unload their troubles without any followup conversation.

Shortylicious

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2013, 06:38:33 PM »
I've had a few near strangers tell me that they were 'trying' for a baby. Oh boy. Thanks for that mental picture. Oversharing TMI has become so prevalent! I've often wondered if it's because of social media. Folks put so much info out on Facebook and Twitter that they just assume that we all want to hear about their private lives. No thanks!! Not interested!!

jayhawk

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1167
    • my organizing website
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2013, 06:49:19 PM »
I had just graduated from college and jobs were scarce. I had gone downtown to apply for a receptionist job (along with about 50 other folks, IIRC). Another applicant and I shared the 20+ floor elevator ride down after applying. I got to hear about her hysterectomy on that ride. That was 30 years ago and I'm still  :o

LifeOnPluto

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6646
    • Blog
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2013, 09:15:32 PM »
I too have a sign that says "Tell me your deepest darkest secrets and the most intimate details of your life" someplace on me. I just make the appropriate noises and walk away, slowly.

I really think that the people that latch onto strangers or near strangers need to tell someone, *anyone* that they are having problems. I think it's safe for them, they know you won't see them again, or see them soon, they know that you don't really care, so you are not likely to gossip, and they can unload their troubles without any followup conversation.

Agreed. They probably figure strangers will be less judgemental than close friends and relatives. Or perhaps they've simply worn out their close friends' and relatives/ sympathies and need fresh meat to latch onto!

My story is when my landlord's wife (who was pregnant) suddenly started complaining about the impending baby, and how it would make her life so inconvenient!

crella

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1020
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2013, 10:06:57 PM »
I think I posted about this here before, but my surprising TMI incident was at a bank. The person who was taking care of my transaction was making quite a few mistakes entering data, and then she exploded and blurted that she couldn't concentrate on work, she was waiting for test results to come back about the baby she was carrying.

I now seem to be a magnet for tragedy stories. Three times when we were in the US last spring people told me about losing a parent or a child...DH kept saying "What is it about you that makes people want to tell you things like that?". I have no idea...

Raintree

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6035
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2013, 11:22:50 PM »
I used to get sucked in by oversharers, as in I felt good that they trusted me, or that they were open and honest and easy to form friendships with. That was in my gullible days.

Nowadays, I've come to realize that these people should not be trusted; they usually turn out to be drama queens, emotional vampires with a neverending list of "issues" and crises to unload on you. And if you share anything with them, it'll come back to bite you in some way. Best to keep your distance from people like that.

(When they tell you something like, "I'm taking time to work on myself" and tell you all the self-help books they are reading, it's a definite red flag!)

oceanus

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 693
  • pronounced o-see-ANN-us
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2013, 11:41:19 PM »
There’s a woman who lives down the street I see once in a while (walking her dog when I’m tending to my flowers, etc.)  She likes to stop and chat.  But, she’s a sweet, funny lady who seems a bit lonely and I don’t mind talking a break to talk.  She doesn’t overshare, and I don’t feel like she’s trying to suck me in.

That’s different from the Emotional Vampire, who has tentacles (like an octopus).  If you dare to resist, sometimes the EV will throw a tantrum, telling you how selfish you are because “I guess if it has nothing to do with YOU, you’re not interested.  Well, excuse me for bothering you.”  >:(

Well, okay.  Whatever.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 11:55:06 PM by oceanus »

m2kbug

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1495
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2013, 12:49:02 AM »
The last time I got stuck in this type of situation, I had to listen to a laundry list of health issues, and it just went on and on and on, in great detail, and frankly, I really don't want to hear about your bowel movements or yeast infection, is this really something you need to share?  I was kind of trapped, just trying to figure out a way out without being rude, when someone noticed and asked how we were doing.  The topic got changed, thankfully, and now I avoid this person or avoid being alone with this person every time I see her.

I think you handled the situation well, if you were worried about that.

MrTango

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2391
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #27 on: February 15, 2013, 07:20:29 AM »
On the occasions people have done this to me, I've been pretty direct in telling them to stop telling me about whatever topic they're sharing.

In my experience, directly telling someone that I don't want to hear about [problem] is nearly 100% effective.

oceanus

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 693
  • pronounced o-see-ANN-us
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #28 on: February 15, 2013, 09:41:59 AM »
Quote
I think you handled the situation well, if you were worried about that.

No, I wasn't worried.
Just wanted to hear experiences of others.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5367
Re: When an acquaintance "overshares" personal information
« Reply #29 on: February 15, 2013, 05:59:07 PM »
I've had some co-workers (including my boss) who overshare. My boss is very paranoid about her health, to take just one thing--it's more stuff like her eyes or her heart than any, er, other parts, but I still don't like to hear about it. She's one of those people who complains and speculates and over-dramatizes but won't actually go see a doctor about anything, or if she finally does go she doesn't trust what the doctor told her.

She really wants to hear how special she is for being so sensitive (as in, sensitive eyesight, sensitive hearing, etc.). Sorry, having secret constant migraines that don't always manifest with pain but make you feel seasick or unable to look at someone wearing red stinks... but it's not a superhero power.

Generally, I try the "little response" route. Since it's my boss, I feel like totally ignoring her isn't very smart, so I usually face her and nod or say vague supportive things like, "Oh yeah. Sure. Of course." But nothing more elaborate or emotional than that.

She keeps coming back, though... I've been trying a new thing lately with some success. It also worked on a previous co-worker who overshared and generally talked about himself all the time. I've found that if I actively contribute to the conversation, incorporating my own troubles or those of people I know, it seems to end faster.

Like when my co-worker would go on and on ad nauseum about the videogame he was playing, I would wait for a natural pause and then jump in with, "Oh yeah, I know exactly what you mean! I've been playing this game online that..." And believe me, I wouldn't get very far before he was visibly bored and ended the conversation himself. I mean, I wouldn't interrupt him or anything rude like that--I didn't talk for a quarter as long as he had. It could have been a nice conversation about our gaming hobbies... if he was actually interested in a conversation, which obviously he wasn't, he just wanted to hear the sound of his own voice.

I tried this a little bit with my boss the other day and it also seemed to bring the conversation to a close quicker. She said someone suggested she had allergies but she'd never had allergies, so I jumped in with a (true) story about how my grandma felt bad for a year before someone looked into her crawlspace and found all kinds of mold growing there, that was blowing up into the house. You don't have to be "allergic" to mold to get sick from that amount. My boss threw in a couple more lines about how she's had someone check her basement... then decided she was done with the conversation. Yay for me!
~Lynn2000