I was in a meeting last week with four other people. We had been gathered by the host who asked us to join him for lunch because he needed some advice on a delicate professional matter.
Our host welcomed us and asked, “Does anybody feel uncomfortable if I ask you to keep what I’m about to share confidential?” Not one of us felt uncomfortable – in fact, we knew we had been asked to join him for the purpose of providing input. One fellow went so far as to say, “I’m not good at much, but I am good at keeping a confidence.”
Consider that scenario vis-à-vis another I heard about from a young friend who is spending her summer break from school doing an internship for a local manufacturing company. She was working on a project when a more seasoned employee (both in terms of age and years at the company) stopped by to see how things were going. The young woman quietly expressed some dismay in that she was uncertain the results of the project she was working on would yield any beneficial results and that she thought there was probably a better way. Rather than consider the new idea from the young person and talk it through one-on-one, the more seasoned employee, thinking that the young woman’s discontent was “adorable,” went around the office to share the story. The young woman was hurt. She felt like she was being made fun of and that her ideas – and time at the company – were not valued.
These are important stories in the networking equation relating, of course, to trust. One never wants to tarnish a relationship, break a confidence or damage trust by knowingly or unknowingly divulging private information by telling others about conversations that were meant to be kept between the parties engaged in the dialogue. We’ll call it “Vegas Rules” or “What-happens-in-a-networking-interaction-stays-between-those-people.” I know, it’s not as catchy as “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but you get the point!
With that in mind, remember these tips:
- Honor. Demonstrate your trustworthy nature by treating information you receive as confidential.
- Permission. If you feel compelled to share something, have the express permission of the other party before doing so.
- Set the Stage. If the roles are reversed and you need to speak with someone privately, tell him/her that you would prefer for them to hold the information in confidence.
You have my permission to share this information widely… Happy Networking!