The age of transparency seems to be understood as a way to blow the doors open to all sorts of information that we may not have the need -- or appropriate clearance -- to disclose.
It's not just that people may get hurt in the process, they will.
Disclosing private information betrays the very trust someone has placed in you. Trust takes time to build, lots of time. It takes one careless -- and selfish -- act to destroy.
No, I'm not talking about whistle blowing on scams of which unfortunately we've had our fill in the last several years.
What I'm talking about is more the personal kind of betrayal. The kind of indiscretion that a company wouldn't expect of its agency, for example -- that's why there are enforceable NDAs. Or when a colleague knowingly throws you under the bus. This is an expression used to describe blatant and sudden betrayal in cubicle nation.
Today, it's not only companies that face the privacy in the age of transparency dilemma. Note that the article linked here is from 2004. "Privacy is about self-possession, autonomy, and integrity," wrote Simson Garfinkel, "Over the next fifty years we will see new kinds of threats to privacy that don't find their roots in totalitarianism, but in capitalism, the free market, advanced technology, and the unbridled exchange of electronic information."
And opinion, we might add. Private and confidential have been linked in so many instances, aside from being on the same line in official documents.
Sharing information that is confidential with the media, or anyone, is equivalent to stealing. Often though, the person leaking information -- from a company, or a relationship -- may be not fully aware of the damage they may be causing and its consequences -- to themselves first and then others.
What can you do to highlight the importance of trust?
1. Talk about the importance of respect
The most vicious kind of betrayal is that of misquoting someone for the purposes of placing yourself in a good light. That is by far the worst kind of spin and although it shows up as no respect for the other, it ends up being no respect for yourself.
2. Go by the Golden Rule
Deep down in your gut, you often know when you're doing something that is not right. It feels off. Stop and consider what you'll gain carefully. Because what you lose in exchange may be too dear. There's a reason why sayings like "making a pact with the devil" exist. You end up being owned by the very betrayal you made.
3. Take the issue up with the person or parties involved first
This is more transparent than going above or around them, actually. Breathe deeply and face the conversation and you will breathe more easily, too, afterward.
Whether you're in the camp of trust needing to be hard earned or it being given freely will also say a lot about the kind of person and company you are.
In the age of transparency, we still have a need for responsible and helpful filters. Are you going to be one of them?
Is betraying someone's confidence ever justified?
We're so enamored with transparency -- and immediacy -- that we might be missing out on the opportunity to let people emerge as their true selves over the course of long-term relationships.
[updated from archives]
For a proposal delivered with confidence, contact me today.
For in depth content Sign up for the Premium Newsletter.