Should I Say Something? WT556
Sean had a dilemma. His teammates had confided in him.
They shared information with him that affected the business.
He didn’t know what to do.
“Shirl, I am in a real pickle here. I want to maintain confidentiality, but I feel really strongly about what they told me. I don’t know what to do. What would you do?”
Now anyone who has worked with me knows that it’s not for me to answer that question.
We know that the person with the problem is the best person to solve the problem.
The best way to help is to listen (actively) and to ask the questions that they need to hear, not questions to satisfy our curiosity.
“Why do you think they confided in you?” I asked.
“Well, they know I can keep stuff to myself.”
“Yes, why else did they tell you and not someone else?”
“Well, I don’t know that they haven’t told someone else.”
“Ok. Let’s look at it another way. Do you think they were venting, or do you think they told you because they wanted you to do something about it?”
“I think a bit of both. I think they needed to download and share and I also think they were wondering what they should do with the information.”
“So what they shared wasn’t necessarily about them, rather it was what someone else had shared with them?” I continued to clarify.
“Yes, I think so.”
“In essence, they were having the same conversation with you that we are having now?” I reflected back.
“Yes, I suppose they were. You know, I really don’t have to do anything with that information, other than have listened to them. They are the ones who need to take action to change it, if they want to.”
“That sounds like you’ve worked out what you want to do?” I reflected.
“Yes. Thanks so much for the advice. It was really helpful.”
That comment always intrigues me because I didn’t give any advice. I merely asked questions to help Sean clarify for himself what was going on. At the end of the conversation he decided what he wanted to do and in this case, he decided he didn’t need to do anything.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, where you’re not sure if you should speak up, you can coach yourself, by asking yourself some simple questions:
- What was the motivation for them sharing the information with me?
- Is this something that has the potential to harm others?
- Is this a legal issue, such as child protection information or a non-compliance behaviour etc.?
- What is to be gained by me breaking the confidentiality and sharing the information or what are the likely consequences?
- If I was to break confidentiality, who would need to know and what would their likely reaction be?
- And finally, what are my real reasons for wanting to say something?
It’s a tricky situation to be in and every situation is different. At the end of the day, only you can really decide whether you should say something.
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