Blind acceptance is not my forte. Whenever I watch a movie and one character asks, “What happened to you?” and another character responds, “It’s a long story. You don’t want to know,” it drives me nuts. I always want to know. Maybe it’s my tendency towards pragmatism; I want everyone to be equipped with full information.
Full information is ideal, but not realistic. Do moviegoers really want to sit through an explanation of what they saw happen five minutes earlier for the benefit of the character in the dark? Accordingly, your colleagues most likely aren’t interested in a full history of why you responded this way instead of that way. They just want to know the gist. All workplaces have their own culture, but most operate at a fast enough clip that progress would halt if providing full information was the standard for each exchange.
I challenge those of us who feel the need to over explain, to ask ourselves why. For whose benefit are we explaining all the details, our audience, or ourselves? Honesty may uncover that it is our own insecurities that trend us towards this habit.
It’s human to want to be understood and to be validated. But providing a full background of a situation’s happenings and detailing the minutia of our thought process will likely not result in the validation we desire. In fact, we may be undermining our own legitimacy.
Trust yourself. Provide enough information to be understood and to communicate the pertinent details for the subject at hand, but resist the desire to over explain.