Thoughts and such like.....
So how are you about keeping secrets? Can people trust you to keep their secrets or should they just keep quiet and pass you by when they want someone to keep confidences?
It's an interesting phenomena, that once a secret has been told, it's actually no longer a secret. We tell one person, and then they tell someone else, all the while, asking that each person told keep the secret! I have been always one to keep secrets told to me. However what puzzles me often is that I am then told by another the same secret, and wonder why I am asked to keep the information quiet! I am happy I didn't break the confidence of the people who disclosed their secret to me, but puzzled that they ask me to keep their confidence, and then told another person (or people) and still expect it to be a secret. Maybe that is why I've always held things close to my chest, and not been very good at confiding in others.
I'm interested too in what is it that makes us break confidentiality - is the excitement of knowing a secret that no one else knows, does it give us a feeling of power? Or is it the need to share and explore someone else's personality and stress (good or bad). How do you feel when someone confides in you? What is the strongest need that comes after learning a secret - is it a need to share and dissect it with others? Or is it a thought around how you can support your friend/colleague?
Since I've been coaching it has been even more important that I keep confidences and I love that my clients trust me to do so. However trust doesn't always come immediately and I must prove to my clients that they can trust me, apart from assuring them of confidentiality, trust takes time.
I have a coach(s), and attend coaching supervision. Working in supervision helps me to reflect on how I am working with my clients confidences. It helps me reflect on what is going on for me, whether some of the information I am receiving triggers reactions in me, and what those reactions can tell me about myself.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges for a coach is where you are hired by a company or organization to coach employees. The challenge is in developing a coaching agreement that can meet the needs of the organization, while at the same time ensuring the confidentiality of those being coached. Madeleine Homan and Linda J. Miller in their book Coaching in Organizations is a great resource for outlining expectations of information shared: www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1484801660?ie=UTF8
In my case, I look at what trends and themes can be complied to feedback to the sponsor or organization paying me to work with their employees, I ensure that both the organization and the client(s) are in agreement with these before signing off on any contract. My reputation as a coach depends on this confidentiality, and allows me to gain trust of my clients, and thus serve them better. If the task is performance coaching, I also ask that the sponsor keep me updated on performance, whether or not been it has improved and where else may I support the client in attaining the skills they need to excel. The triangle between organization, individual and coach can sometimes be hard to maintain, and certainly I, as a coach, need to be aware of the tendency to be pulled into a drama triangle (victim, rescuer and persecutor) where I try to 'rescue' my client as opposed to helping them discover the answer to their problems. Sometimes it is the feeling of being put into the situation, by the sponsor, me taking on the role of persecutor! This, for me, is where reflection and being mindful of my role and tendency to want to help my client can overcome my training as a coach. Where I must be mindful and not play the drama game, where I work with my client to create a different interpretation of the situation, one in which they can address the problem from a different angle.
There are times where we should break confidentiality, either as a coach, or friend. When someone confides in us about hurting themselves or others. Or when we are made to do so through a court of law. But these are, hopefully, not common instances. What about you? How are you about keeping secrets of friends, family or colleagues? Have you ever found yourself being pulled into the drama triangle without realizing the consequences? Or have you shared a secret only to discover that it is known to everyone? How did that affect you?
Can you keep a secret? If not, maybe it may be better to let others know that you are not good at keeping confidences, and it's better not to tell you anything that they want to keep secret!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog