What’s the Problem?
I have someone on my team who overcommunicates in all contexts. His emails and texts are too long, his presentations ramble on and on, and when he speaks, he circles around for minutes before landing on a point—if he ever does at all.
He doesn’t create confidence because he doesn’t get to the main point or come up with a clear ask or idea. It’s really starting to make him lose credibility with the team.
I’ve given this team member a lot of feedback on the topic, and he is genuinely open to working on it, but he always reverts to the same style. How do I help him improve without constantly nagging him about the same thing again and again?
Over the Overcommunicating
What Do We Think?
Dear “Over the Overcommunicating,”
It can be frustrating when we give feedback and nothing changes, so let’s discuss the situation.
First, your question tells us that:
- The person in question is leaking power because of the way they communicate.
- The feedback you’ve given hasn’t created a behavior shift, so something in that feedback loop may be missing—likely because what you delivered addresses the symptom but not the core of the challenge.
- This may be an issue of just accepting someone’s flaws or limitations rather than trying to fix them.
So, exactly how is your problem a power problem? We think:
- It’s a power problem for the person in question, as they’re losing trust and credibility while not fully recognizing their impact.
- It could be a power problem for you, too, because you don’t really understand the person you’re dealing with. You get frustrated when they don’t change—but you haven’t been able to help them because you don’t fully understand what’s happening, which makes you feel ineffective. It’s a vicious cycle.
What’s the Solution?
To be able to move forward, you’ll need to consider:
- What is the feedback you’ve given to date, and what parts of that feedback has this person understood?
- What is the impact of the overcommunicating? Does he see the true cost of it and how it undermines his credibility?
- Do they know why they do it or what prompts them to overcommunicate?
- How do you know that your feedback is sinking in? Do you check for comprehension or engagement with it?
- Do you have a plan in place for ongoing conversations—metrics for improvement, regular check-ins, reviews, feedback from others—or is this just delivered as a once-a-year performance review and then never spoken of until the next one?
Our guess is that there’s a perceptual gap between what the person thinks they’re doing and the impact they truly have.
So, once you’ve gone over each of the above questions methodically, a good first step is to have a thoughtful and honest conversation with this person. Perhaps highlight some of the questions and answers to the questions, making sure you’re both completely aligned and that the feedback you’re giving is being fully understood.
Then, work together to create an actionable, measurable plan so you can check in on his progress and track his improvement. This way, if things still don’t change, you have something tangible to point to, helping you avoid repeating the same conversations with no true change.
When all is said and done, if the overcommunicator continues overcommunicating, this may be an issue of accepting his flaws instead of trying to fix them.
Best of luck!