Post Emily Post: When Sharing Isn’t Caring

From our earliest years parents, teachers, and child-friendly TV touted the benefits of sharing— leaving us with memories of the “good sharers” (Held up as examples for the rest of us) and some of us with reminders of reprimands issued for not sharing well with others (If this was you, come sit by me…)

These days, however, I’ve been thinking that we might have been better served by hearing a bit more about the advantages of sharing a little bit less—at least on the verbal front. What do I mean by this? Well, here are some over-sharing examples from my last few weeks:

  • I attended a lovely cocktail party where my hostess arrived a few minutes after her guests, having been held up at work. What was her greeting? “Do you mind if I go upstairs and brush my teeth? I have the worst taste in my mouth….” Um…Feel free.
  • My lunch date—visiting NYC from out of town—apologized for being late, which was very graceful. Then he mentioned it was because, “I had to go buy clean underwear since I didn’t bring enough with me.” Um…Good thinking!
  • And, finally, my friend Karen called me with the following—consummate– over-sharing story: She and a new acquaintance were visiting a mutual friend. After chatting for a few minutes this woman asked her, “Do you mind if I go take a bath? I have the worst cramps.”  Um…Be my guest…  ???

So although parents, teachers, and children’s TV surely have a point about the importance of playing well with others, as we head into adulthood this doesn’t include sharing everything that’s on your mind.