Collaborating with Overthinkers, by Meredith Arthur
It’s easy to hear feedback and think “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Meredith has ideas for how to avoid overthinking.
How to Recognize Overthinking
People pleasing. Perfectionism. These are blockers to good work. They come from overthinking.
In yourself, you may recognize overthinking in these symptoms:
- Physical symptoms – stiff neck, nausea, lightheadedness
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
- Replaying small conversations from the past in your head
- Belief you can solve everything by “working harder”
You can also recognize overthinking in others:
- Do they get caught up in little things?
- Do they work in circles, or just keep pushing at something that isn’t helping?
- Do they blame themselves?
Overthinking is revving on a problem for too long, believing if you “just work hard enough” you can fix anything – even big things like climate change. It’s also needing external validation to feel good about your work. It’s painful, inhibiting, unproductive, and a form of anxiety. Recognizing it is the first step.
Situations and Examples
- You need to solve a problem together: overthinkers want to respond directly to the problem being stated. You may fear sharing feedback (don’t want to upset the other person).
- Try framing feedback as a question. Ask how the work relates to the goals.
- Time-box your working session and write down all viable ideas
- Clarify ahead of time that it’s easy to overthink, and support one another to get away from it.
- You had conflict in a meeting and need to address it. You might assume you know what the other person is thinking. You want to wait to address the conflict.
- Set up time to talk before weekend/vacation.
- Try to connect, share a bit of yourself.
- When in doubt? Build trust!!
“The thing that makes you feel awkward is often what sets you apart – in a good way.”