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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Gaining Respect as a Technical Writer

Your value as a technical writer wholly depends on how you value yourself in the role. First and foremost, you have to respect the profession, the responsibilities you have, and the role you play. Only then you can demand respect from the others. The best part of being a technical writer is the mixture of creativity and technology. You can bring in a small amount of creativity in the way you present the information-that is where you can expand your thoughts.

But to expand your boundaries in this area, you definitely require staunch support of the management. Unlike the other professions, here you have to first prove your worth before you receive their support. The respect given to technical writers, or to documentation in general, depends on (at least) three interlinked factors: management support, processes, and technical writers themselves.

Management Support

In most organizations, the culture is usually influenced by the factors that are important to the management. If the management is really serious and committed to technical writing, that will be reflected in the way the documentation team is treated. Commitment and support from the management is very important. You need to make the management aware about the value addition you do. Let them see your contributions and recognize them as valuable addition to the product. If your organization is paying you well, remember that they are already respecting you by compensating well for your work.

Integrating and Formalizing Processes

Indifference of the SME towards documentation—giving information and performing the technical review on time is a common problem that most of the technical writers around the globe face. When assigning work to the engineers, the product managers fail to consider the time they spend in giving a demonstration of the product, providing information, and performing documentation reviews. So most of the time, these activities becomes an added burden to the engineers. There are some organizations which consider all these factors and account for the time in their product development plan, but most don’t.

  • If the documentation cycle is integrated with the product development cycle, then the engineers may become more cooperative because they are educated about the requirement to do the tasks and because the process says so.
  •  If the process states that the writers be informed of any decision about changes in software as soon as developers are, it will be done.
  •  Another way is to integrate these aspects (time for writers and reviewing the documentation on time) into the annual performance review of the engineers. This makes a lot of difference in the attitude of the SMEs who may think of documentation related work as waste of time.

When something becomes a process, it no longer remains personal and has to be followed by every concerned/involved.

Technical Writers Themselves

There may be an existing documented process or guidelines. But to start with, the writers can earn respect for themselves by being knowledgeable atleast about all the aspects of documentation—the product or technology they are writing about.

  • Be confident as a writer—Create error free documents and display outstanding and noticeable performance that will gain you respect. Others should want you to work on the documents of their product!
  • Do your home work—Always do the groundwork before meeting with the SMEs. Most of them will give time if you succeed in demonstrating that you have done your homework or made an honest effort to learn about what you are documenting.
  • Be proactive—In addition to creating documents, take active participation in suggesting usability changes to the user interface (UI), reporting software bugs before QA phase, and helping the developers create the functional specification.
  • Be friendly—At another level, be being friendly and courteous with the SMEs. Developing a rapport on a personal level with others helps.

 Always hold your head high, with the strength that comes from your conviction about your work, its importance, and your role as a technical writer!

No Respect in Marriage

You can respect a person you don’t love, but unfortunately, you can’t love a person you don’t respect. So, respect is the first and foremost ingredient to a thriving and everlasting marriage. Respect is the catalyst for all beautiful things in a relationship. Respect also enhances trust, connection, affection, care, and love. Unfortunately, respect in all its simplicity is easily overlooked, leading to criticism, disrespect, and all the ugliness in the relationship.

When one partner consistently feels dismissed, rejected, and condescended to, you need to realize that something is wrong. Most of the time, the partners do not communicate the problems and you end up wondering why the other person is behaving strangely. If your partner mentions the problems don’t dismiss it or don’t laugh at it. Try to mend those issues. Your partner is talking to you sharing the problem with you because he/she thinks you care and will do something about it.

Ridiculing will break that trust. Breaking that trust in a negative manner will break the respect. Without respect, there will be no love. Without respect, there can be no relationship. When there is no love, respect, or a strong relationship, the partner will not risk sharing their problems with you.

Without care and attention, every relationship can slip into disengagement and subsequent loss of respect. It is easy to ignore the positive traits of your partner and failing to cultivate them cultivating them. Maintaining respect and appreciation for your mate will be one of the best investments you will make in your marriage. 

Rani had positive dreams about her marriage, an arranged marriage. She dreamt of a loving, caring, and supporting husband. She looked forward to knowing her husband, his likes and dislikes, and properly take on her new responsibilities. In the first few months of her wedding, Rani was surprised and pained to see that Kunal, her husband did not leave a single opportunity to insult her, especially in front of his friends and relatives.

Rani requested Kunal not to make her a butt of his jokes and told him that it hurt her a lot. Instead of understanding Rani’s feeling and respecting the fact that she made a request instead of arguing with him, Kunal promptly replied that she was being extra sensitive and that she should learn to take the jokes to her stride.

 Kunal should have spent time getting to know his wife better, communicating with her and giving her the support she needed. This would have helped Kunal in earning Rani’s love, affection, trust, and respect. Instead, he himself was responsible for not letting that process happen at all. Inspite to Rani’s repeated request he was not ready to stop insulting her. Unfortunately, he was also not ready to understand that Rani could not respect him because of this behavior of his. Kunal’s argument was since he is THE husband, he deserves Rani’s respect. Does he?

Just like other factors respect is a two-way process—you get respect only if you respect others. Respect begets respect. You should also be able to command the respect. That is, just respecting the other’s and their feelings is not enough, you should earn the respect and then retain it as well. You don’t want to have to ask for it, respect is something that should come naturally.

There are signs for recognizing disrespect in a marriage—you just feel it or you don’t. So if during the courtship, you feel that you think that you are not getting the respect from your to-be partner, don’t make any kind of commitment even if you love that person. Respect manifests itself in many ways. It is in the little things your partner says casually and the little gestures that will tell whether or not he/she respects you.

Does your partner do the following:

  • Wash dirty linen in public too often/frequently?
  • Insult you in front of your kids?
  • Reveal intimate details about you or kids to his/her friends?
  • Ridicule you by saying he/she wishes you were not around?
  • Make fun of you in public?
  • Embarrass you in front of the others?
  • Make fun of you limitations in public?
  • Act as though you were not around when he/she is with friends?
  • Make all decisions on his/her own without asking you for yours, especially in matters that involve the family or the house?

[If your answer is YES, then there is a major problem]

  • Wish you on your birthday and anniversaries?
  • Appreciate your effort for doing something special for the family?
  • Go out of his/her way to please you and say things that make you feel good?
  • Occasionally  make you feel special, if not every time?
  • Recognize your positive and encourage you to do well?
  • Recognize your limitations and offer support to overcome it?
  • Show genuine respect for your parents and siblings?
  • Speak of you parents and siblings with love?

[If your answer is NO, then there is a major problem]

Why Marriages Fail?

Marriage is the strongest and the most sincere commitment you make in a relationship. Two people with completely different ideas, hobbies and walks of life come together with the hope of spending rest of their lives in each other’s company.

Living together means a lot of adjustment on micro level that romantic books/movies and courtship period do not prepare you for. There is a lot adjustments when sharing a bedroom/bathroom/bed, eating habits, sleeping habits, varied friends, entertainment habits and type, work timing, commitment, in-laws, and the list goes on. Life can get very complicated when you have to adjust to all these new things.

In an Indian family, especially in an arranged marriage, the woman has to suddenly make so many adjustments. So having a happily functional marriage requires a lot of thought, effort, compromise, and hard work by both the spouses. The woman has to make the adjustments adapting to the new environment and changes.

The man has to make the adjustments by sharing things, time, and space with another person, that is, his wife. He also has to ensure that his wife feels comfortable, respected, and secure. This will make the wife feel safe with him. She slowly starts to trust her husband, then respect him for his support and help, and eventually fall in love with him. If the support, care, help, and respect fron the husband is missing right from the start of the marriage, the basic foundation of the marriage just cannot be formed.

Hence, it is true to say that this tender relationship called marriage is a union of mind and soul, tied by flimsy strings of love, trust, respect, and intimacy. Even if one string snaps out, the relation can go for a toss. Unfortunately, even if you have a loving relationship now, there is no guarantee that it will last the test of time even in the near future.

A healthy marriage requires a lot of work and patience from both the spouses. However hard one spouse tries to make the marriage work, it will not, if both the parties do not put in similar effort. If you are the only person trying and making all the compromises, the relationship is really not worth it. In that case, it is true to say that your spouse is not worth all the effort you are taking. Small misunderstandings and innocent mistakes can soon build into a mountain and the relationship starts dying.

“Happy marriage begins when we marry the ones we love and blossom when we love the ones we marry.” Tom Mullen

Marriage is meant to be enjoyed and not endured. But the fact still remains that today, many marriages are just thriving on endurance. Hence, it is important to take heed of the marriage problem signs as soon as possible.

Some of the common issues are:

  1.  Marrying for the wrong reason
  2. No commitment: https://sajithajayaprakash.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/no-commitment/
  3. No respect for spouse: https://sajithajayaprakash.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/no-respect-in-marriage/
  4. Bloated ego: https://sajithajayaprakash.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/bloated-ego/
  5. Lack of communication
  6. Poor listening skills
  7. Excess Responsibilities
  8. I don’t care attitude (indifference)
  9. Taking each other for granted
  10. Lack of love and affection
  11. Lack of I­n­­t­i­mac­y­
  12. Still feeling “I, me, myself”
  13. Having unrealistic expectations
  14. Not fighting fairly
  15. Playing the blame game

A relationship can survive most things if both people involved in it are committed to the other person and act with respect toward the other. It helps to survive the death of parents, being childless, career changes, layoffs, further education, lack of finance, and/or lack of luxury.

People often feel that marriage brings security in a relationship. It is probably because marriage is registered, legalized. Usually when there is a sense of security, people feel that there is no need to further work on it to improve it. The same happens with marriage as well.

Try to work on these issues and have a happy marriage. After all, you have one life and it is better it you enjoy your life and let the other enjoy their lives to the fullest!