You’re Just so… EFFUSIVE

Words have hurt me many times in my life.

It was supposed to be my dream job, and I wanted to do my best.  I was about forty days in when I got the chance to meet my boss’s favorite client.  She (my boss) couldn’t say enough positive things about this client.  By her descriptions, you would’ve thought the woman walked on water and had rainbows shooting out her ears.

I was excited to meet her. 

No rainbows appeared when she walked in the door, but she was beautiful, intelligent and accomplished.

I was in “observation mode” which meant I watched her session and said as little as possible.   I loved watching her.

As she left, I shook hands with the client, thanked her for allowing me to watch and told her I was “thrilled to meet her.”

As the door closed, my boss looked at me and said: “Let’s talk.”

She asked me what I thought about the client, and I bubbled over with the things that I saw that I loved about her; she was brilliant, funny and had a cool accent too!

My boss looked at me and said, “Let’s talk about you.”

I’ll never forget the look on her face and what she said next.

Alex, you’re just… so… effusive“.  Her words came out in a stammer as she imitated my gestures. Her face scrunched up; she looked disgusted.

My chest tightened.

I didn’t know what effusive meant. 

I didn’t need to.  I could tell it wasn’t good.  I got what she meant.

Tone it down.

Hold back the energy.

Don’t talk “like that.” 

Be less “you.” 

I could feel a lump rising in my throat.

I didn’t want to cry in front of my new boss.

Professionals don’t cry.

Professionals who teach executive presence absolutely do not cry.

I tried, but I couldn’t keep the tears in.

I could see she didn’t expect my response; she sat and stared blankly at me.

I got up, grabbed a tissue and tried to breathe.  I came back to the table, wiping my tears away.  After several uncomfortable seconds of silence, she looked at me and said

You’re your own worst critic aren’t you?”

I nodded.

She said, “Well, then, we won’t need to have many more conversations like this will we?”

I nodded again.

And with that nod… at that exact moment...

I shrunk.

I withered.

I started to put away the parts of me that I had thought made me special. 

I spent the next couple of years working hard to suck in and stuff away anything that might be effusive about me.  I tried to be anything and everything but me.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  All I knew was that I was effusive, and therefore not good enough.  It almost destroyed me. 

Eventually, I left that job.

It took time and help from people who love and know me well, that trying to be something other than myself was never going to work. 

I needed to come to terms with who I am.

I looked up effusive, and I read, with new eyes, what it really means.

It means expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure or approval in an unstrained or heartfelt manner.  

(Synonyms include; overflowing, exuberant, enthusiastic, extravagant, gushing, talkative)

“That’s me!” 

New tears came.  I took a deep breath, and I thought,  “That is how I want people to remember me when I’m gone.”

I decided then and there to take that word, the one meant to make me less than who I am, and make it mine.

I am unrestrained in my gratitude for being called effusive. 

Looking back, I can’t tell you if my boss ever knew or understood the impact her words had on me.  I choose to believe that she was doing the best she could at the moment.

However, let my experience serve as a reminder for all of us to consider our words carefully.   Especially when they’re directed at someone else.

It’s not easy, and we won’t get it right every time, but we need to try.

Here’s what I know now, without a doubt.  We need more effusiveness, more gratitude, more enthusiasm, more people showing up as who they are at work.

I am leading the way to make that happen and I’d LOVE for you to join me!


P.S. The image featured in this post is one of my favorites. It’s me with my brother Adrian and sister Charlotte (you can probably guess who’s who).  The recipients of so much of my effusiveness from the start.  I believe it captures my heart and soul.  










10 replies
  1. Justin Goodin
    Justin Goodin says:

    OMG, I got fired from a job for being too effusive. I am speechless right now. Too many people out there do not see the world the way it should be seen. It is a truly wonderful place where we should accept one another for who we are and always smile no matter what. I am dumbfounded by the individuals who will never get it. And your boss who told you that you were “effusive” will never be happy. That’s the God’s honest truth. No other way to put it. Keep being you, no matter what! 🙂

  2. searchingformyinnerzen
    searchingformyinnerzen says:

    This is the first time I have ever heard the word effusive and I can’t believe it was used in a negative way now that I know the meaning! I hope people remember me as being “Effusive” too what an amazing compliment that would be 😊

    • Justin Goodin
      Justin Goodin says:

      I absolutely agree and it might have sounded like I was stating being called effusive was a bad thing… What I meant by my comment was the fact that anyone calling someone effusive and then trying to make it seem like its negative, are plainly unhappy people who will not get true happiness. This situation that happened to Alex is exactly related to one of those things in life that has often happened to myself where I would walk into a room super excited about something and there’s always that 1 person that makes a negative or sarcastic comment and kills the mood. Alex’s past boss is just this sort of person.

  3. practicallyspeakingsite
    practicallyspeakingsite says:

    Justin, thanks for reading along. We need to be careful about making broad assumptions about people (even being called effusive). We’re human, dynamic. People have different versions and definitions of “happy”, and that’s OK. We get to choose the energy we bring in and keep in the room. Thanks for reading along!

    • Justin Goodin
      Justin Goodin says:

      I just had one of those lightbulb moments. As you wrote in one of your blogs about “trying too hard”, I feel often times when people who have the drive and energy as I have, the “seemingly” less energetic and less “happy” people bring others down and they get some sort of enjoyment out of it. I know it’s our choice as people to choose who we hang around with, which has a strong influence on ourselves. However, what if, (and this is a huge what if), what if you REALLY loved your job very much at this place where your boss made you feel so taken back? I also am very much my own worst critic. I know exactly how you felt in that exact moment. And this is where I truly wished the ones who do not have any idea how badly that made you feel, wouldn’t have any problem coming on here and writing negative comments, as within the pause of your boss before she stated you were your own worst critic. How do we change those sorts of people? Do we lead by example the best we can by ignoring and leaving assumptions and judgement behind? Sometimes this can be extremely challenging within an environment we truly want to be in but cannot change on our own.


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