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Columns : Coaching for the Workplace - Kaylus Horton Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Is There Confidence in Confidentiality
By Kaylus Horton, Path™ Coach
May 26, 2011 - 11:32:10 PM

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In recent months based on the nationally and internationally publicized closed door conversations and E-Mails it may good for us to evaluate what meaning we personal we hold for Confidentiality.  Allow me to share my evaluation with you, and ask that you do the same and seek an opportunities to discuss this topic with your associates, professional networks and by extension with your family and friends.  

To me above all else, to me this word speaks of honour. My first experience with these words can be traced to the playground.  Knowing information and being asked to keep it as a secret made me feel like a Queen; filled with glee and pride to be counted amongst the chosen few. 

In my teen years it seemed like the more private information you knew the more you would be held accountable for it and there would suffer sever consequences and experience “drama” if you loosely handled what you knew. I made it my business to avoid information that did not directly affect me and being anyone’s confidant. My mantra was “the less I know the better it is for me.”   

Adulthood saw more of the same as the teen years. The less I knew the better it was for me.  Until the day I was forced to embrace confidentiality up close and professional when I accepted a job as a human resources and training associate, then magnified to the 10th power when promoted to co-lead a department with a team of approximately 15 associates.  Oh! And to make this pot even sweeter, the nature of the organization required all associates to comply with honoring the clients’ rights and confidentiality, sealed by your initials to a line statement when receiving your copy of the employee handbook. Failure to comply could result in termination and possibly legal action.  

Interestingly keeping confidential matters confidential was relatively easy for me as my job and livelihood were at stake. Unfortunately, what was uncomfortable were family, friends and colleagues who found it challenging to accept that I could not share with them what I knew. The simple; “you could tell me, I aint gone tell nobody” was equivalent to me hearing “I want me to loose my job”, “I want you to live with a lack of integrity” and “I don’t respect your position.”  

Today as a Path Coach, my stance to confidentiality remains the same, actually it is even more intensified as being a self employed professional, not honoring my clients confidence can be the detriment of my reputation and livelihood.  

Let’s shift perspectives from me to you and allow you to evaluate how confidentiality may be affected or has affected you in the workplace: 

1. Is it a challenge for you to be a confidant? Consider if people respect you by sharing with privilege information with you in detail.  Is information passed around and over you especially when your position calls for your inclusion? 

2. Have you been betrayed by a confidant? Reflect on if enough time was allowed for this person to prove their eligibility to be held responsible with your affairs. A bit challenging if the betrayal was at the hands of your manager or subordinate, perhaps consider how documentation or a witness could have soften the bruise. 

3. What does it mean to you to guard information? What makes it good and acceptable for you to be like a bank vault filled with money, only allowing access to a chosen few, up to a certain point and only at the appropriate time? 

4. What linkages do you see between your demonstration of confidentiality and your character, reputation, potential for promotion, respect, and most importantly the legacy by which your children and your children’s children will be reminded of and may be subjected to.   

If your evaluation reveals that it may be wiggle room for improvement it may be in your best interest to reconsider your approach to upholding confidentiality and resolve to take immediately corrective actions.  Here are a few recommendations to get you started: 

  • Erect boundaries to protect yourself
  • Protect what you know as if your life depended on it
  • Shun the temptation to share what you know
  • Suppress the curiosity to be in the know
  • Embrace the honour and respect included in being a confidant
  • Understand that that sometimes knowing less than is acceptable

I leave you with this quote by Hillary Clinton Secretary of State in the Obama Administration and former first lady of the United States of America.  

In almost every profession – whether it’s law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business – people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs.  We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides.  When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it.  

Copyright @ 2011 Kaylus Horton 

Kaylus Horton is the Principal of Renaissance Group of Companies. As a Certified Path Coach she facilitates learning and discovery for the focus, direction and the pursuit of vision. 

For more information about coaching in the workplace visit www.renaissancebahamas.com or send an E-Mail: info@renaissancebahamas.com

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Coaching for the Workplace - Kaylus Horton
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