But what if it’s not so straightforward as all that???
The other day I was trying to explain something to Deb. (Okay, it was about how to link our blog to her Facebook account. And you already know how the FB is making Deb freak a little bit. So I wanted to be deft.) Now, I’ve worked very hard to learn how to express myself as clearly as I can. You who know me only from the blog can’t really appreciate just how tangent-y and convoluted my spoken word can be. I know I can be obtuse here, but at least I have the luxury of reading, re-reading, and editing to help me get as close as I can to my intended meaning. But all bets are off when I am in full ramble-mode.
So there’s me trying to explain something technical to Deb. I'm not good with the technical, so I was nervous. Keep it simple, I remind myself. Be clear. So what do I start with?: “There’s this glitch and I have no idea how to fix it.” These were literally the first words out of my mouth. I haven’t even told her what to do yet and already I’ve planted this very loaded piece of information in her head. So I ramble on: “Click on the Facebook link,” “find a good thumbnail,” “delete the comment,” “add a headline,” “click share”. Well, Deb—quite naturally—is still trying to wrap her mind around this “glitch that has not ever been solved". She wants to help figure it out, you see, or find someone who can. But I keep trying to sweep over this glitch business (“Why is she worrying so much about it? It’s not that big a deal.”). And then I realize—or rather, Deb explains to me—that I have set up our whole conversation around the existence of a relentless, irritating, unsolvable GLITCH. Who wouldn’t worry about it?! I started all over again with my explanation (sans “glitch”) and all ended well … but it got me thinking.
This whole conversation reminded me how easily we needlessly complicate things when we speak to each other. Warning people about dire consequences before I’ve put anything in context is my thing, I know this. But I think we all have our things.
A big one I’ve noticed (and of which I am also guilty) is OVER-EXPLAINING. The human mind is incredibly resilient. After a life long of reading––whether it’s books, newspapers, magazines, Facebook messages or email––we are very adept at extrapolating information from a few key words. But many of us (yes, me me ME!) over-explain because we don’t trust this process. And also because (I think) we’re so worried we won’t be heard or trusted or understood.
So, yes, we have to express ourselves. But we also have to keep honing this tricky skill too, don’t you think?
Deb: This happens to my husband and I all the time. We are each clear about the intention of our point and yet we find ourselves bonking heads. Each of us trying not to say to the other either “am I crazy here” or “are you nuts?” I think it’s because we both have our line of thinking mapped out for us and we do not want to be swayed for fear that we lose our train of thought. Barb kept saying, “No wait, let me go over it again,” assuming I did not understand, instead of looking at the big picture of her statement, “There is a glitch that we can’t solve,” which is what I was focusing on.
I am also guilty of over explaining. I will say to someone, “Oh sorry I can’t be at the meeting because you see (bla bla details)(bla details reasons)( bla reasons excuses bla). Lately I am trying very hard with a good deal of success to stop that. “I can’t be at the meeting, sorry.” Feels so good.
But in your case, Barb, you were over explaining and repeating because you thought I honestly did not get it, which is a sweet reason for over explaining. Because, well, you are sweet.
At any rate, I got it, thanks to you. And what I would normally say here is, “Oh thanks for explaining because you see I just didn’t understand the (bla bla) and I couldn’t (more useless facts) because you see I (extraneous details) and so I (bla bla friggin bla). But instead, I’ll just say “Thanks. I get it now. xo”