Fundamental of the Week #16: Respect Confidentiality

Honor the trust others give us. Be rigorous about keeping all information in confidence and be vigilant to safeguard it.

In my professional life, I find it essential to keep my private conversations with others confidential, unless I have explicit permission to share what we discussed. This has trained me to confirm with others if the information in our conversation is private or public. The best conversations happen in an environment of safety and trust. The willingness of others to relate to us as a “safe place” to speak openly is a corollary to the rigor with which we honor and respect the privacy of the things people share with us. Personally, I consider the trust of others a badge of honor.

In the current political climate, there is a great deal of rancor and angst in and around the White House over “leaks,” which as far as I can tell has always been a robust trade in our Capitol, however it currently appears to have scaled new heights. A major concern around this is what people, especially foreign interests, will be willing to share with the President and his administration. The mistrust fomented by this climate is sharp, destructive, and contrary to smooth operations, and quite frankly, I see it as a detriment to our natural interests. It is a condition that allows us all to see the value of honoring another’s words as confidential.

I know from experience, if I hear a “juicy tidbit” of information it takes discipline not to share it. What people are willing to share with us is a gift and it enhances our ability to be clear and to make good decisions. The less willing people are to confide in us the weaker the information we have to make good decisions. We are dependent on the quality of what others tell us in order to see the world clearly and to see beyond our own limited perceptions of what we consider to be truth. By respecting confidentiality and honoring the sanctity of what others tell us in private, we build trust and increase safety, which sustains our personal effectiveness, in our personal lives as well as in business.

Craig Clark
Founder and CEO,
Momentum Consulting, Inc