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over-explainer guy November 11, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Staff.
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Photo used under CC license; by Flickr user star5112.

Photo used under CC license; by Flickr user star5112.

Over-Explainer Guy. Every computer has a clock on it, and so does every cellphone. People have cut back on their use and wear of wristwatches. So when you’re not at your desk and you realize you might be late for something, you ask the room at large, “what time is it?”

“Well, Lorraine, a wristwatch is a roughly disc-shaped item that’s held to your arm, where it turns into your hand, by a leather or metal band closed by a buckle or clasp. Inside the disc, you’ll find most likely a battery that either runs a series of tiny gears or an even-tinier computer that projects rapidly-changing numbers in a readable manner. The nation’s leading maker–”

“Shut up, George.”

George is Over-Explainer Guy.

Seriously, who needs that much information? Just tell me what time it is. If the time is 11:12 and 30 seconds, you can say “11:12”, “11:13”, “about 11:15”, or “a quarter past 11”. Or you could just say “I’m not sure; let me check.” You don’t need to go into extreme detail — number of seconds, description of time-telling device, long-winded Wikipedia-like explanation of the Gregorian Calendar, none of that stuff.

Faults of Over-Explainer Guy:

  1. Extends Meetings. He always wants to make sure the entire assembled staff knows every single facet of what was done or what will be done. Simply saying “okay, Fred, I’ll take care of that” is never enough.
  2. Makes More Work. When Over-Explainer Guy specifically explicates each and every step, one of two things is likely to happen:
    • the meeting will be extended as you discuss better and more streamlined ways to make things happen, or…
    • …you’ll find yourself doing more work than is strictly necessary to get the job done because suddenly your boss feels the need to add all of Over-Explainer Guy’s “improvements” to the project.
  3. Wastes Your Time. Whether it’s a simple “did you know that Greek salad actually isn’t Greek in nature at all” at a lunch gathering or a more-complicated “oh, that episode of ‘The Office’ was actually supposed to have Kiefer Sutherland in it, but he was filming ’24’, and on that, did you know…”, Over-Explainer Guy is most definitely going to spoil your leisure time. The only person more obtuse in this than Over-Explainer Guy is Buzz Killington:

  4. Gets You In Trouble. By over-explaining how something went wrong, it often turns out that Over-Explainer Guy, who is almost always legitimately very good at his job, was not at fault, and that it was actually you who screwed up. If the whole department’s getting chewed out, count on Over-Explainer Guy to get himself out of trouble… and you or someone else into it.
  5. Extends Your Work Day. By means of any item, 1 through 4, or something more unintentionally-insidious, Over-Explainer Guy will extend your work day. Most likely by corralling you and getting you to listen to some project that’s being worked on by you or by him. What’s worse: when Over-Explainer Guy is your boss.

Beware Over-Explainer Guy. Identify him when you get to work and stay far, far away. If he’s in your department… well… it might be time to find a new job.

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