Holding the space and avoiding over & under sharing


Every conversation and occasion calls for its own recollection and recognition of memories. Knowing what to share that honours and holds the space, takes a bit of awareness, recognition and refining.

Oversharing can be cringe-worthy, under-sharing evasive and elusive - boring even. If I over-share information, there is often a moment where I check myself and remember what I'm revealing and the impact it may generate. In that moment, I have the opportunity to change my direction - if I'm aware enough in time! This is the same energy (but reversed), that as the receiver of over-shared information, bubbles up and out of me to encourage them to stop. Under-sharing evokes different responses, and I know if I under-share, I feel the energy of the conversation flattens and dampens - like it's had an extra layer or blanket thrown on top of it. As a receiver of under-sharing, I want to YAWN!

Recently I wrote a speech to present at my best friend's wedding. We've been best friend's for 46 years. There were sooo many things I started to share, stories and memories and shared secrets held for each other. I realised as I wrote my speech that some things are best left unsaid regardless of how disastrous the outcome, or hilarious they were then, or are now. 

Identifying and maintaining 'occasion appropriateness' requires discretion. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t requires perspective and an awareness of being in the moment - in this case the 'speech' moment. I find imagining wearing the hat of the presenter and the hat of the receiver, helps to sift 'occasion appropriateness', as does reading a speech to someone who loves you and is honest in their response and reaction! If they laugh at the jokes that’s a good measure, and if they cringe or gasp it is too!

Giving a speech is like having a conversation with everyone listening quietly. Hecklers aside, it is usually a monologue. Developing a relationship with the audience is my goal when speaking. Why? Because as author Susan Scott wrote, “The conversation is the relationship.”[1] Poet David Whyte wrote “Conversation is the heart of human life.”[2] I agree and add that conversations from the heart resonate and reach people to encourage reflective reciprocity.

I think of giving a speech which resonates with the listeners as a beautiful thing. Sharing the love you feel for another human being in a way that it can be heard and received, is also beautiful. I know I did both, honouring my best friend and myself in the process. It was another golden moment in an already special relationship and my pleasure to have been able to do it. What joy life brings!

Have you had a moment where you acknowledged your ‘occasion appropriateness’ and celebrated the situation afterwards as one you managed well as a result of your actions?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below… 



[1] Scott, S. (2003). Fierce conversations: achieving success in work and in life, one conversation at a time. London: Piatkus.

[2] Whyte, D. (2001). Crossing the Unknown Sea : work as a pilgrimage of identity. New York: Riverhead Books ; Berkley Publishing Group.

Gina HainesComment