Can you trust yourself to hold the information of others in confidence?
You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential. — Brené Brown*
Today, I invite you to join me in an inquiry into what it means to hold information in confidence. You may be privy to confidential information related to the finances of yours or another company, or the personal challenges inside of a family you may know. Considering the times that we are in, I imagine that nearly all of us have the type of information w that might be best held in confidence. The challenge of course, is that while many people believe that they can be trusted with confidential information, the reality is that many people love to share a good secret. In business, sharing secrets can have a dramatic and damaging impact. At home and in our communities, sharing secrets can lead to divorce, loss of custody, health issues and other personal stresses. So how do we keep from sharing secrets that are not ours to share? It starts with learning to trust ourselves.
I have been digging deep into this part of Brown’s book because it means we have to first look to ourselves. Ask yourself: Are my actions demonstrating that I don’t share information or experiences that are not mine to share? Would those around you agree?
I would recommend that you start by writing down all the small ways that you may or may not be able to keep a vault to encase the information you have access to. If you find yourself wanting to share information, ask yourself: Who is served by the sharing of this information? If it is just you who will be served, or you cannot answer this question, then you should not share it.
Another question you might want to consider is: Would I want someone sharing this information about me? None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. And when we do make a mistake, we certainly don’t need our friends, neighbors, work team or colleagues broadcasting this to the world. Right?
When we don’t have the ability to maintain relationships based on trust, we may try to be perfect and think we can avoid making mistakes, the mistakes that others might feel the need to share. Well, my friends, that is damned near impossible. The key is to work on being a person who can hold the confidential information of others, which will then lead to…you guessed it!…developing relationships with others who will hold the confidential information you share with them. That is self-trust in a nutshell.
At work, confidentiality agreements, intellectual property agreements and other contracts are meant to create vaults and boundaries around the core functionality of a business, so that the company’s leaders have the confidence and trust to invest in the long-term strategy. If these agreements are not in place, the foundation of trust is difficult to enforce. These tools provide vault protections for business activities and include, but are not limited to, inventions, ideas that may lead to inventions, logos and taglines, business models, designs, system flows, and other proprietary ideas. These agreements create the necessary vault which is a key element of trust. These agreements can reinforce goodwill among partners, key employees and strategic alliance colleagues.
We want to hear from you! Send us a message or email to share how you have built vaults into your personal life, work environment or community.
Of course, contact us if you would like more information about how the concept of the vault can be used to minimize legal issues in your company.
*NOTE: Our theme for 2020 is “Where the Rubber Meets the Road,” and includes the Elements of Trust, outlined in the book, Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown. They are: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Nonjudgment, and Generosity, aka “BRAVING.” All quotes used in this post, unless stated otherwise, are attributable to this source.