Confidentiality in Relationships

 Amit was at the verge of losing his job as a result of cost cutting at his organization. He shared the information with his good friend Suraj. Suraj shared this information with a few common friends. Suraj’s wife did not agree with this behaviour of his—she felt that he should not have passed on this information to common friends. But Suraj confidently felt that it was his duty to do so. According to him, Amit was in a problem, shared the information with him and did not tell him to keep it to himself.

Surj’s wife tried to reason with him that sometimes friends need not specifically tell him to keep some news confidential. He should know what has to be kept confidential and what can be shared. What Suraj  did was gossip. If Amit wanted to share this information with the others, he would have done it himself. Instead he spoke about it only with Suraj, because he trusted him.

Here, Suraj refused to agree with the fact that he had to keep some information confidential. He gossiped about it to a number of friends which hurt Amit’s sentiments. Unfortunately, in reality, there are people like Suraj. They don’t seem to know or understand what’s right and what’s wrong.

Respecting and Keeping Confidences

The question here is, is it always necessary to share some information with a person and then say, “Pssst. Can you keep this to yourself?” Isn’t it better to keep quiet about it? Some people are strong enough to digest their problems and issues. They don’t share private information with anyone else. But, there are a few others who are not strong enough to face problems on their own. They have to share their problems and talk about their issues with their friend or someone.

Many of my friends share their deepest problems at work and at home with me. But not once do they tell me to keep it a secret. That’s because they know that I will not talk about it to the others or gossip about it. They trust me with confidential information.

Many people like Suraj don’t understand the value and importance of keeping private and secret information confidential. This is because they expect people to tell them what is confidential and what is not. They don’t have the maturity to segregate this information themselves.

  1. You are in a party here you also happen to meet a colleague from work place. The colleague overindulges his alcohol intake and ends up doing a series of funny antics.

    Do you share this story back at the office?

  2. You and your spouse had a quarrel.

    Do you go out and talk about the details with your friends and relatives about it?

In these examples, no one is explicitly asked to keep the matter a secret, but the right thing to do is to keep these things in confidence. This is called implied confidentiality. There is quite a bit at stake for the person in both the situations. In the first case, career and reputation of the colleague who got drunk is at stake.  In the second case, marital relationship, trust, and respect  could be irreparably damaged.

Trust and Confidentiality

Believe it or not, there is a link between confidentiality and trust. Will you trust a person who tells you confidential information about the others? No you won’t. Similarly people will not trust you even if you tell them secrets and/or confidential information related to other people. If you can tell the about the others, you can also betray the. Simple as this.  

Sometimes I see people always talk ill about their spouses to the others in anticipation of gaining sympathy, attention, and/or insulting their spouse. What they understand is that the others think of them to be untrustworthy.

In short, you trust a person you can confide in. You trust a person even more if you do not have to tell him/her what is confidential and what is not.  When you earn the reputation of someone who can be relied on, you command the respect and trust of people around you and build deeper friendships.

Confidentiality Tips

Are you someone who can be trusted with confidential information?  Here are a few tips when it comes to keeping confidences:

    • If you have been asked to keep something confidential, keep it to yourself. Don’t ever share this information with anyone else
    • Use your judgment when it comes to matters of implied confidentiality
    • There are times when relationships fail. Even in such a case, you should abide to confidentiality. You may be tempted to speak out of such information. But as a ground rule, information that were intended to be confidential should be kept confidential even if the relationship breaks down
    • Do not speak about your marital/relationship issues with your friends. This is a personal matter. Your spouse will lose trust in you and your friends who agree with you when you tell them about the issue will see you as a irresponsible person. They will also see you as a person who cannot be trusted.
    • When someone says, “I was asked to keep this in confidence, but I can share it with you,” let them know that you rather not be involved.

Your decision to share or not to share will affect how others view you. The next time you are tempted to share some information insult someone or to be the centre of attraction in the group, ask yourself if you would like if others share similar information about you with the others.

When you keep things confidential that should be confidential, you will gain the reputation as a person who can be trusted, and you will grow strong in character and value.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello, this weekend is fastidious designed for me, because this occasion i am
    reading this impressive informative post here at my home.

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