Claudine Phillips

how to keep tmi under control

Have you ever walked away from a conversation feeling a tad uncomfortable after someone shared something personal? Or worse, has the shoe been on the other foot and you walked away feeling like you just over shared?


I have done both and they are equally jarring. Being new to a town (state and new time zone for that matter) and routinely engaging in my community, I feel like I am on a first date constantly. Besides a handful of women, every conversation begins super shallow. How’s the weather kind of stuff. If you know me, I can only talk like that for so long before I want to burst at the seems and blurt out, “What are you really feeling? How are you today?”


At this month’s if:table gathering we discussed what it meant to over share, or experience tmi {too much information}, in new relationships.  As you may have read in my last blog post, I am navigating what it means to take risks this year {2014}, especially in relationships.

Taking that risk of being the first to be vulnerable in conversations can mean the begining of an authentic kinship. It can also mean immediate withdraw of the other person entirely as they suddenly remembered they have somewhere else to be.


To be vulnerable in a conversation does not mean I tell them everything in our first meeting. Brene Brown describes this perfectly:

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege,
and we should always ask ourselves this before we share:
“Who has earned the right to hear my story?”

Starting slow and “testing the waters” is a good way to ease into relationship. “The person must earn the right to hear my story.”  To be honest, not everyone wants to hear it. Connections must be made before they get to hear what makes me tick. I do not want to throw pearls before swines. In other words, give someone my precious gift of my story, only for them to toss it off to the side and not treasure it and treat it with respect and value.

Starting slowly in making connections means ‘stringing the strand of twinkle lights’, as Brene Brown describes in her book, Daring Greatly. When I meet someone new, blinding them with super personal information can be a huge turn-off. It frankly scares them. I can not force relationship by making a fake bond of war wounds through my battle cries.


Slow beginings allows little bits and pieces of my story to trickle in and shed just enough light (like a strand of lights does) on who I am without going into too much detail. Through time spent together and a sense of trust forming, I can slowly turn up the lights and they can know my whole story. And if the new friend chooses to be authentic with me, they will start sharing more of who they are as well, resulting in a true, pure relationship.


Now, that all sounds beautiful and wonderful, but boy, it isn’t easy! I have over shared more than I would like to say. Maybe I over shared because I was nervous in speaking with a new person or because I wanted to help people feel at ease with me, only to find that it is not my responsibility to make people feel comfortable.

Believe me, I have single handedly created uncomfortable situations due to my over sharing and through my experiences I have found a few keys to keeping TMI under control:

  • allow a few touch points of your story to leak out and not flood the poor bystander with info too personal and heavy.
  • give yourself grace when you do over share, and you will…promise…
  • listen more than you speak. You will learn so much about that person if you allow them to tell you!

Keeping these tips in mind have helped guide me in creating long lasting relationships. I don’t want to be absolute about how to share; there are exceptions to these rules.  There have been times in my life that I meet someone, clicked instantly, and these tips were thrown out the window!

I contribute breaking the rules due to discerning the voice of God as my ultimate guide. As I connect with someone new I keep my TMI tips in mind and call upon the Holy Spirit to guide each conversation. I am grateful for opportunities to meet people for the first time and don’t want my past misguided efforts of connecting to get in the way of hearing their story.

I have been fortunate to have sat across the if:table these past four months and hear stories of valor, triumph, strength and honor. Cheers to incredible conversations and courageous hearts around our if:table. I am falling deeper in love with these ladies each time we meet. We each have plugged in our twinkle lights, tested the waters, and we are slowly turning up our vulnerability lanterns.

We decided last night that by now, if you don’t like what you see, too bad, you’re just going to have to learn to love us anyway. So far, we are all crazy about one another.

I would love to know your thoughts and comments below on how you connect when you first meet someone. If you are feeling courageous, tell us a story of when you have over shared and what you learned from it. 

To start your own if:table gathering, go here. I highly recommend it!

Don’t forget to enter to win a Word of the Year Lisa Leonard Necklace {2014}!


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