Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Being Extra

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

Being Extra

Extra ice cream. Free refills. Extra innings. Upgrades to business class. Yes, please. Every time, every day.

The same with extra kindness, extra nice, extra polite, and extra patient. All valuable extras.

Extra, unnecessary words and explanations, unsolicited advice, suggestions that don’t really add any true value, hyper-emotionalism in interactions, passive-aggressive bragging are all forms of limiting and defeating extras.

But sometimes people become extra and there is no value to their extra-ness, and it serves to rebuff people and push them away. The interesting part of this phenomenon is that people being overly extra rarely know they are doing it and never know the impact of their actions. One of the more important damages to consider is that extra people do not invite future interactions but rather people will tend to avoid them. In any circumstance this can be very limiting and defeating.

I absolutely love the Urban Dictionary’s definition of being extra. They define it as being over the top, excessive, dramatic behavior, and my favorite piece, doing the absolute damn most for no reason. Being extra is going to cover a broad swath of behaviors and habits, many of which are unknown to the doer, but painfully clear to those around them.

Here again, the credit for breaking the ground goes to Marshall Goldsmith and the self-defeating behavior he identified, Adding Value. Dr. Goldsmith uses multiple examples of leaders providing suggestions to team member’s ideas thusly depreciating the value of the idea and sucking the morale out of that team member. This piece of being extra also reduces the likelihood that the team member will ever share another idea. Devastating self-defeat and rarely known to the person doing it.

Some people mask this behavior under the heading of “trying to be helpful” and they truly believe that, but what they don’t see is the impact of those actions on others. Consider a couple of examples:

Terri proudly shares the results of her detailed analysis with her boss Thomas. Thomas acknowledges the good work but then, without taking as much as a pausing breath, proceeds to share with Terri some suggestions on font size, column spacing, and tab colors. None of those items impact the overall value of the analysis and associated reports and most are simply Thomas’ preferences or the way he would have done it.

Terri’s initial reaction of pride in her work is immediately deflated but she says nothing. Thomas thinks he is being helpful.

Or another example:

Kelley delivers a great four-hour training class. She asks her boss Tim how she did, and Tim expresses some praise but follows it immediately with what he would have done or said. Again, with the camouflage of helpfulness, Tim deflates Kelley, and she completely feels deflated.

(Hmmmm. I wonder where this example is from?)

And one final example of extra to consider:

You are seeing Brenda for the first time in a very long time. She gushes to the point of tears about how great it is and how much she loves, loves, loves, and loves even more the interaction and time together. She then follows that up with a series of Facebook Messenger notes reiterating the same. Over-the-top? Absolutely and uncomfortably so.

You can probably provide dozens of examples of these things happening to you and maybe even some in which you did it to another person. This phenomenon is not limited to the working world, we also do it to our kids, also under the guise of being helpful.

There are some other types of being extra to consider as well. Being extra can come in the form of someone who uses way too many words in all interactions. Some people are naturally wordier and more verbose than others but the truly extra take this to an artform. They will absolutely drone a conversation and make it, unintentionally, very one-sided. A simple word count will yield at least a 2 to 1 ratio of words and in some cases, 3 to 1, 4 to 1, or 5 to 1. This happens in person and in email and text exchanges.

Extra people also show themselves in over-the-top emotionalism. They will lavish and heap praise and other mush when simpler, and more concise phrases will have more impact. The extra folk also seem addicted to emoticons to add even more extra. I had the displeasure of having a fringe in law a few years ago that could not write a single sentence and one without the dripping of emotion that would make most soap opera characters uncomfortable. Five thank yous, six loves, four omgs, and three smiley faces would compose her typical Facebook message. Absolutely unreadable and totally credibility destroying. Yes, she was wordier than most, but this was extra beyond wordy. There wasn’t a social media post that didn’t have a response from her withing 3 seconds of posting. Extra squared.

Over-the-top extraness is not limited to the hyperbole of positive situations. People can also be extra when faced with obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. This Chicken Little phenomenon of the sky falling at every minor road bump is a very difficult one to be around. They will tend to highly exaggerate the impact of failure and the impact of things like budget cuts, a new boss showing up, or any other relatively common change.

Being extra also shows up in people that love to show off how smart they are and everything they know. For trivia night at the neighborhood tavern, this is awesome, and this person needs to be on your team. For all other settings, this can create significant disconnects and harm the desire of people to interact with you moving forward. You will hear phrases like “in my previous job”, “based on my experience”, or “my research tells me” that are about to lead into someone about to share way too much extra about how smart they are. No one likes a know-it-all. This type of extra will also show itself with million-dollar vocabulary words, again designed to show intelligence without regard to potential disconnects with others. We know you’re smart, you don’t need to remind us constantly.

Another type of extra is found in people who just can’t help but provide leading explanations. So instead of saying “please move your truck”, they launch into a lengthy diatribe about all the reasons for moving the truck, the lack of prior knowledge of the need to move the truck, and the consequences of not moving the truck. All of that is highly unnecessary and convolutes the needed action of moving the truck. These types of people need to trust that if someone has questions about their directive or inquiry, they will ask. Frontloaded explanations will confuse people greatly and even lose a big chunk of listeners.

If you’ve ever heard someone leading into a conversation with “if you don’t mind me saying”, you’re about to be extra’d in another way. Unsolicited feedback and advice are common forms of being extra. This type of extra can become especially annoying and lead to some damaged relationships and overall avoidance. Please remember, unless you are invited to provide feedback, just don’t.

A final indicator of being extra is the need to always have the final word. They say goodbye, you say goodbye, and then they must add a see you soon. Even in email, you say thank you and you get a note back moments later that says “no, thank you.” Just being extra for extras sake.

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