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How secretive are you?


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I consider every day what I can write and what I can’t write. I absorb new information all the time and some of it I use in my articles and some is too confidential. We have to keep some things secret or our friends wouldn’t trust us with their more personal details or problems.

Trust is about secrecy, but when should we keep things secret? I tend to consider anything that is told to me in a one to one situation, as possibly confidential. Counsellors have to keep lots of information secret, in fact anyone in a position where they have responsibility for the welfare of others. Doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, carers and even accountants are required to keep information confidential.

It is a matter of balance when we are thinking about what should be kept confidential and what should be public knowledge. We should all have our privacy respected. What we spend our money on, is our business and no one else’s; but what we spend public money  on, is everyone’s affair. Some information should be private and secret and other information should be public.

Some people can be too secretive, feeling that knowledge is power and not wanting to share the knowledge that they have gained. Human development and progress is based upon the sharing of knowledge, it is passed down from generation to generation and built on. The professor teaches the student and one day in the future that student becomes the doctor, teacher or even a professor passing information to the next generation.

Secrecy is very important in some professions. In the security services such as the police, armed forces and secret intelligence services. In these professions some aspects of what goes on has to be kept secret while other aspects such as policy has to be very open and transparent. There is a balance to be maintained and rules about what can be public knowledge and what has to be kept secret. Trust is maintained with secrecy within the service, but the trust of the public is maintained with openness.

As individuals we have to keep the confidences of our friends and family, respect people’s privacy, but at the same time be open about our personal ‘policies’. We need to be clear and open to people about our views, morals and ethics. Then people can trust us, not just because we can be secretive about some things, but because we can be open about others. If we are secretive about our lives and our principles, then people will find it difficult to trust us. If we repeat everything we are told in a personal conversation, that too will be seen as a breach of trust.

Relationships are built on trust and so both secrecy and openness are very important. We have to get the balance right  in order to build and maintain good relationships. We need to know when to be secretive and when to be open. We need to be clear about that, so people know where they stand.

How about you, do you know where to draw the line when it comes to secrecy and openness? Please share your views by commenting.

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3 responses

  1. I never ever tell anyone things that I don’t people to know, I read somewhere once that if you tell someone a secret you should know, that person will tell at least one person telling them not to tell anyone and the chain continues,
    I tell my Husband anything, I trust him totally as he does me.
    If someone tells me a problem or a secret I usually tell my Husband, despite saying I’ll not tell anyone so I guess I prove the above theory true.

    4, December 2012 at 12:05 am

    • Hi,

      That is true, everyone seems to tell someone that they trust. In counselling that is often another counsellor and that’s allowed. Husbands and wives seem to be allowed too! I often tell no one. I have a terrible memory though and so I don’t need to keep my mouth shut for very long. 😛

      4, December 2012 at 12:17 am

  2. Pingback: We can afford more traffic calming « Mike10613's Blog

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