To Share or Not To Share?

This week I found myself somewhat compromised: in a quandary. A colleague had unilaterally decided that I should be privy to some rather personal information, the details of which could have serious implications and consequences within a working environment. On the one hand I was somewhat flattered that this person should share this personal news with me yet on the other I was genuinely vexed as to motive. That sounds cold, I know, but over the years I’ve learned never to be an eager or willing conduit for other people’s bad or distressing news. This can often exacerbate a situation, even back-firing or turning into the proverbial Chinese whispers. Put simply, I dislike sharing other people’s secrets. Ironically, that being said, I’ve spent the best part of my life keeping secrets, all kinds of secrets, concerning the private lives of some very famous or not so famous people, some of which would make ones hair curl yet are destined to go with me to the grave. Plainly put, I can’t afford to be a ‘gossip’. I even know things about people for whom I don’t particularly care, but that in itself would be no reason for breaking a confidence. This particular person was rambling in their outpouring text: ‘I have to tell someone and I thought of you’. After a great deal of contemplation it seemed I was in the unique position of putting things right albeit risky. Without telling my distressed colleague I approached a higher authority with a determination to have this matter resolved in a calm, adult and professional manner. My colleague was convinced that this couldn’t be done hence their lack of direct action. There was a fear that to challenge authority within the working environment may aggravate matters further, yet it was my belief that this whole matter could be satisfactorily resolved given a bit of light intervention by me. I took a deep breath and went straight to the top: a visit to the lair of the ‘Grande Fromage’. As is so often the case in such matters it transpired that it wasn’t the first time that such a concern had been raised in the office by others. I was assured that if my colleague were to broach the matter directly that they would have a more than sympathetic ear. ‘Brilliant’ I thought as I left the lofty heights of the ‘untouchables’. I was then troubled by the thought of having to tell my colleague that not only had I broken their confidence but that I’d broken it in the most spectacular way at the highest level. I sent an email to this effect. Then waited. I’d waited for what seemed like an eternity when the reply arrived. One could almost taste the relief pouring from the computer screen as they thanked me for my intervention. I can’t, of course, recommend such action for every situation, indeed it’s not something that happens every day, but in this instance my instinct was just about right.

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