These days, people are prone to over-sharing, revealing way too much about themselves to perfect strangers, and even their friends. Part of it is the culture we live in, where we share every mundane detail of our lives on social media.

But the over-share happens offline too. In fact, over-sharing happens most often when we’re trying to control our anxiety, or make a good impression, and we fail. Psychologists call it “self regulation” and here’s why it backfires: When we’re trying too hard to look smart, witty or interesting, we don’t have enough brain power left to filter what we’re saying. So we blurt out something completely inappropriate. And we blurt these things out mostly to the people we’re trying to impress: Our boss, our date, our future in-laws. 

To make matters worse, we’re embarrassed by our over-sharing so we try to fix the situation with an apology, which not only draws attention to our flub, but we may start blabbing even more!

But we can manage our tendency to over-share. Here are tips from psychology professor Dr. Hal Shorey. He says, first of all, your mom was right; think before you speak, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Why am I sharing this information with this specific person? What am I looking to gain? If it’s to relieve your anxiety, or to try and make a connection, don’t do it. You won’t accomplish either goal. 

  • Also recognize the times when you do over-share, which is usually when you’re trying to make a good impression, or you’re nervous about what other people think about you. 

  • And if you do over-share, drop it. The only time you should backtrack is if you think you’ve completely changed the person’s perception of you. If that’s the case, keep your apology short and simple. Say, “I know I embarrassed myself. That’s out of character for me.” Then, drop it for good.

  • And if you find yourself saying things like, “I’ve never told anyone this but....” Control yourself. That’s an over-share about to happen!