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Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers/Coworkers ask for confidential/private information


A close friend asks you to give them confidential/private information that you are privileged to. How to handle this? Do I use my professional demenor and ask why, tell them its a breach of confidentiality to leak info, could cause lawsuit?

Dear Etta,

This is a really good question.

Here's how I handle this sort of thing.

This is about trust and integrity.

It has nothing to do with whether the person who asks you is a close friend or an acquaintance; a supervisor, peer or anyone else.

You have been entrusted with some information. Someone gave it to you with the understanding that it was for you and you only. And that means that unless there's the risk that someone else will die or come to serious harm if they're not told, you are not at liberty to repeat it to them.

Will your friend be offended if you don't disclose that confidential information? Possibly.

But the best friends will respect your decision not to tell them.

Those who get offended prove that they themselves can't be trusted to keep information confidential; and you'd do well to remember that the next time you think about asking them to keep a secret.

If you do what the right thing is to do, then you'll have a clear conscience and your reputation will remain intact.

Cheers, Bruce

Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers

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Dr Bruce Hoag, CPsychol AFBPsS


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Co-wrote (with Professor Cary L Cooper, CBE) Managing Value-Based Organizations: It's Not What You Think, published in 2006.

Academy of Management, British Psychological Society

Leadership & Organization Development Journal,

PhD, Organizational Psychology, Manchester Business School

Awards and Honors
Chartered Occupational Psychologist & Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society; Ezines Expert Author

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