Whether you think you are over-explaining or you’ve just been told that you do this, you may or may not truly be over-explaining. Consider what you are explaining and why. And then do one more thing… (take a simple one-phrase self-assessment).

What are you explaining? If you are explaining strategic direction and what success looks like, to create a clear vision for others, then you are not over-explaining. Jump to #2. If you are explaining your reason for not doing what you said you’d do, then stop. Reasons and results are mutually exclusive. Focus on results and next best steps. There is something to learn from what didn’t get done, but there’s nothing to explain.


Stop trying to explain away a lack of results. You are only pushing results farther away. Shift attention to best next steps toward results.


Why are you explaining? What is your intention? Gaining clarity requires explanation. If your explanation is describing some idea, learning, research, vision, strategy, etc. in more detail so that you get clearer (we learn when we teach) and/or to help others get clear then you cannot do this too much or too often. If others are resisting—they don’t want to get clear about what you are sharing—then this tells you about them. It’s not about you. As a leader, your best next step is to ask the person a few questions. Have the care and courage to understand what belief is holding them back.


When you are explaining to get clear or be clear, then you are not over-explaining. In this case, negative feedback helps you identify those who fear growth or change.


Finally, ask what your state of mind is. Are you feeling courageous at the moment you are speaking? Just ask yourself, “Through these words, am I modeling courage and building courage in others?”


If you are feeling a lack of courage, you are likely over-explaining. If you are feeling courageous—a model of courage and builder of courage in others—then you are not over-explaining.


Have the courage to share so that we all might grow. I’d love to hear from you.

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