I spent the last few days writing a white paper on SaaS integration, as part of what represents more than a third of my time, interestingly more than the time I spend sleeping a.k.a my job. I considered briefly diving deeper in some aspect of this work for the benefits of the readers of that blog, but I decided against it to write a lighter piece on the benefits of speaking too much in the business realm. Case in point, I spent more than 75 words, 77 according to my text editor, to say very little about the main topic of this article. Did the world catch on fire because I said too much? Nope. Worst case scenario (admittedly not actual worst, the world catching on fire being a much scarier proposition), you’ve already jump to the first section of the article. Best case scenario, you enjoyed learning about my process and are eager to read what follows. That’s the heart of my premise: when considering giving away information versus the potential negative outcome of that information, skew towards giving information away to maximize value.
Debunking the information silo myth
For some reason extremely foreign to me, throughout the years I encountered many co-workers feeling that their value is determined by the amount of information they have and other don’t. If you’ve ever encountered that kind of behavior, you know how frustrating that is. I can’t explain why they feel the way they feel, but I can tell you their premise is wrong. If you have vital information to your company or your state of business that you do not share, this will not make superstar. On the contrary, it is usually identified as a liability and a reason for making a person redundant. On the other hand, if you possess information that no one is aware of that is not extremely important, then it will die with you, and with it your value.
Why it works: you are not important.
Honestly, I often get into these conversations whenever I or my friends are attempting something difficult. No one cares about you. It’s the syndrome of the newbie at the gym that worries about what other think of him, the answer is: they don’t. The same goes when sharing information, you should not worry about communicating ideas, expressing the fact that you don’t understand something, or expressing why you agree and disagree with. If you ever get negative feedback about it, take it as it is: feedback, more information for you to consume and build upon. If you get actual mockery from your interlocutor, it is also feedback: your interlocutor lacks communication intelligence (sometimes shortened as “your interlocutor is a dick”). Another added bonus of nobody caring about you and over information, is that if you say something that you shouldn’t have said (not that I think that ever occurs), chances are the person won’t notice or judge it as inappropriate because it is consistent with your character.
The aftermath of over-communication: transparency & reliability
On the flip side, over communication unlocks you as a personal asset by making you seem transparent and reliable. If you constantly and honestly communicate with everyone you encounter and do not hesitate to share information, I guarantee that people will judge you as trustworthy. Think about it, every time you say something, especially when genuinely showing lack of knowledge or comprehension. People will want to take to you because they know that you will give them a genuine answer. Furthermore, I truly believe that cultivating a culture of over communication is essential for the success of a company. From every level of the organization, management to engineering, lack of communication is frustrating, and too much information is not hurtful. I know I have extreme views on that, but I even think you should talk simply about sensitive subject. Let’s take an example: your salary. I don’t mind of you make more than me or if I make more than me. For me, it gives me a very good insight where you are within the company, the market and your career. I believe I am worth what I make because I make sure to deliver, and my salary is in accordance to the market for a person in my position. Do you know how I know that? I talked about it with people around me.
This is not carte blanche for stupidity or chit-chat
The issue with over communication is that it is an open door to your thoughts. And every one has his share of stupid or uninteresting thoughts, myself included. Heck, I don’t even know if that article is interesting or relevant at all. This is however unrelated to over or under communication. This is work that you need to make on yourself to grow as a person that has relevant things to say. The best way to do that is simple: listen to people that over communicate.