Total Transparency or TMI?
by Julie Weishaar
February 13, 2023
transparency

We live in a world of total transparency thanks to the Internet and social media networking sites.

As small business owners, if we are disingenuous and don’t follow through on our brand promises, we will eventually be found out.

Let’s look at this transparency concept from a different perspective. It is one thing to be honest and another to enter the zone of “over-share” or “TMI”.

On many social networking sites, especially Facebook, we are all privy to information about our “friends” that we might not really want to know.

Some business people are holding back getting heavily involved with Facebook and other sites.

Nnot because they are concerned about others seeing what they are doing but because they don’t want their FB “friends” to see what their children are doing!

How Are You?

How about those people who, when asked “How are you?” – really tell you?

We have all worked in an office where there are those certain people we try to avoid because if they get us alone, we will never get away.

They go on and on and on about everything under the sun. And much of it is really personal information that we would rather not know.

Isn’t the phrase “How are you?” frequently really a rhetorical question?

Here’s something to try when you are fed up with pushy sales calls.

When the salesperson asks, “How are you”? Tell them the truth – especially if you are having a bad day – the look on their face that you can almost see through the phone will make your day brighter.

The point here is that transparency doesn’t mean getting too personal or sharing too much. It means to be obvious, frank and/or candid.

Example of TMI

Timing also plays a role here. I try to ingratiate myself with those I need assistance from. The most recent example I can give is from today.

My dad has been having health issues, and we have been back and forth to doctors, hospitals, ERs etc.

Today was a bad day. I needed to take my dad to the ER to get IV fluids because he was seriously dehydrated.

His gastroenterologist’s secretary likes to complain about how overworked she is, and I usually listen, commiserate, understand, etc.

However, today, when I called her to tell her I was bringing my dad to the ER, she started complaining about how busy she was – THAT was the wrong timing on her part.

I don’t care how busy she is normally but today? I REALLY didn’t care, and there was no sympathy on my part for her being overworked.

Facebook Sharing

Another example of what some consider over-share is commenting on Facebook pictures.

However, those “some” are usually the young, and those young are usually our children.

We old folk like to have conversations relevant to a particular photo; sometimes, those conversations veer off the original topic.

That is OK – it doesn’t bother us. However, many of our children don’t like this, especially if they are in the photo or somehow included in the trail of messages.

Apparently, photos are “not the place to have conversations”. I didn’t read those rules anywhere – maybe I missed them?

The email notices that flood these young folk/our children’s inboxes are annoying.

I suggest turning off the email notifications or, better still, I – G – N – O – R – E them.

Disclaimer: Blogs are written in one’s own voice and, therefore, exempt from the Over-share/TMI category. JMO 🙂

Update

This post was originally published on September 15, 2010. So much has changed since I wrote this article.

Sadly, my dad passed away two years later ☹

And so much has changed in the world, the Internet, social media, the news, and just about everything online.

Some social sites are no longer around, new ones have popped up, and most people of all ages are extremely careful about what they share on social media.

Many people no longer even use social media networking sites.

Back to Transparency

Why is it vital for your business to be transparent? Transparency is essential for company success in the future.

Customers and employees are both calling for greater openness from the companies they work for and patronize.

Transparency at all levels of an organization is more crucial than ever since ethical behavior is valued, and firms that promote good change are rewarded.

Be sure to balance brand transparency with TMI.

Originally published September 14, 2010; republished February 13, 2023 for updates.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Paul Novak

    TMI is everywhere, that's for certain. I get it enough in real life, from hearing in detail how someones job sticks to the latest gossip about people I may have met once in my entire life. The worst part is that some of these folks will just never get the hint, no matter blatantly you ignore them. Coming right out and saying that enough is enough just hurts feelings, so I usually end up letting my brain dirft off into make believe land and hope I don't start drooling while I am momentarily catatonic.
     
    Online it's even worse because
    #1. Some people have no clue as to what net etiquette is.
    #2. Some folks think the net is a platform for anything and everything and have no concept of restraint.
    If the neighbor had a bunion removed, they'll post about it.
    A lot of it results because so many are getting online these days, and simply just don't understand how the net works. They get a computer. a friend sets them up with a few accounts and away they go. No one stops them until it's either too late or they've embarrassed three generations of their family.;)

    Reply
    • Julie Weishaar

      Paul, I really think there is a true psychological disorder where people literally don’t stop talking. I kid you not that there was a woman I knew when my children were in elementary school who NEVER STOPPED TALKING. You know the type where you are waiting for them to take a breath so you can chime in “gotta go”. A friend of mine and I were driving through some local neighborhoods to scout the area for possible new homes. We mistakenly drove into this woman’s neighborhood. She was outside and we tried to slip by unnoticed but she spotted us. I don’t remember what time it was but I do remember that it was light out. I don’t know how long she went on for – but I can tell you that it was PITCH black by the time she came up for air. We were exhausted! That woman definitely had something psychologically wrong with her – that is just not normal.

      Then you have those people who either are unable to interpret social cues – especially those that indicate one is just not interested in what they are saying. Then of course, there are those who might be able to interpret correctly but simply don’t care. And of course, then you have the narcissists who only notice themselves anyway.

      LOL – I believe your pre-drool state is my lala land.

      Not sure I agree with you online it is worse – only because you can quickly hit “delete” or “off” any web page, right?

      Thanks so much for adding your insights. I always enjoy your perspective!

      Reply
  2. Susan Oakes

    Julie,
    I still can't understand why people think others want to know all their details especially online. I like the way you say frank and open but it seems that there is this compulsion to go into all the gory details that if they thought a second would not publish it. May be it is a case of taking what people say about transparency too far.
    On a couple of times recently people have tweeted someone close has died and then tweeted every emotion and detail up to and after the funeral. I just could not imagine doing it let alone being on Twitter at that time.
    Hope your Dad gets better soon.
     

    Reply
    • Julie Weishaar

      Thanks Susan. Dad is on his way to recovering. I actually don’t mind those kinds of tweets you refer to – I am more baffled by why anyone would really think we care what they had for breakfast or even where they are at that particular point in time, “in line at Sears” – who cares? LOL

      BTW – I forgot to tell Paul, my neighbor broke his hip!

      Reply
  3. Sherryl Perry

    Being an "oldie-but-goodie" myself, I honestly think the majority of the TIM generation online is the 30 and under group. I have had to "hide" quite a few people on Facebook because pages would be filled up by one or 2 people. My daughters friend (a child I've known since she was a baby) detailed a family feud blow-by-blow on Facebook – including posting some horrible things about her grandmother. I was appalled. Don't they realize how that reflects on them?
    It's been on the news where employees have fired people based on their FB posts. It boggles my mind that people aren't taking this seriously. It' bad enough to share TMI to a small audience in person but when you take it online, the implications are far more reaching.

    Reply
  4. Julie Weishaar

    Sherryl, I have seen some of the same online faux pas on Twitter and it "boggles MY mind" that one woman in particular (I don't know her personally) was surprised that she was fired after Tweeting something about her boss. Hello?? Where did common sense go?

    I agree with you that much of this online overshare is 30 and younger. Some of their posts make me dizzy with the switching back and forth from "in a relationship", to "single" to "in a relationship" again – LOL.

    However, lack of what I call "common sense" has no age limitations.

    Reply
  5. Ryan Biddulph

    One of the toughest lessons to learn Julie is finding the balance between holding no private thoughts and not so much burying the private thoughts, but overlooking, or looking past, these ideas. TMI can be an issue when one seems to be a runaway freight train of thoughts, dominating the conversation. But burying thoughts and feelings because you fear how people may think about you is a huge mistake because bundling up that poison ruins your life and also erodes your credibility. Why? When you bury your fears, social media and life in general because a fake, illusory event where you try to convey some ridiculously perfect image. Eventually, the illusion crashes as does one’s sanity and any shred of credibility.

    Ryan

    Reply
  6. Julie Weishaar

    Hi Ryan, I agree with you that hiding thoughts and feelings out of fear of what others will think is a mistake for many reasons. What others think of us shouldn’t affect what we think of ourselves. And, as you said, when the facade is broken, you are no longer credible or authentic. Have you noticed how everyone’s life is perfect on Facebook? 🙂

    Reply
    • Ryan Biddulph

      I *did* notice that a few times over the years….LOL. I love sharing the upsides and down sides of blogging and circling the globe. Sharing some previously private thoughts – even when the thoughts feel uncomfortable for repressed minds to process – freed me, created peace of mind and encouraged others to express and release their depression, rage or whatever unconscious stuff bubbles under the surface for all non-enlightened minds.

      Reply
  7. Julie Weishaar

    Hi Paul,

    Your sharing of your blogging experience from your travels is what makes you authentic and engenders trust from your readers. On the other hand, haven’t you ever read someone’s social media post and thought to yourself, “Do I really need to know this”? For example, family spats, etc.? There are times when “How are you” is really a rhetorical question!

    Reply

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