Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Is Silence Golden?

A friend told me something in confidence the other day, and now it's boiling inside me, bubbling in my brain, looking for someone safe to discuss it with. I have not repeated what he told me, and I will not. But, woooweee, it's hard to keep my mouth shut.

One of our employees told me something slightly alarming yesterday and asked me to keep it confidential. I've been down the path she's on right now and it leads to disturbing, frustrating, just-plain-ugly places. I want to talk to her best friend; I want to call her mother; I want to confront the issue, but feel I can't because she asked me not to.

A colleague is in the process of making me totally, off-the-wall, batshit crazy. I'm pretty sure I'm returning the favor—not on purpose mind you, but simply by being myself (albeit a sometimes sarcastic, snotty version of myself). We are bringing out the worst in each other, but we are doing it beneath a threadbare blanket of civility.

Repeating a confidence for the zing I'd get from the gossip is just plain wrong. I'm clear on that.

Repeating confidential information in a way I interpret to be helpful—that's not quite so cut and dried. After all, my intentions would be good. Trouble is, my perceptions might be wrong in the first place and there's always the chance that whoever I chose to tell might not handle it well. The whole thing is fraught with peril, a phrase I remember from the boxcar-load of romance novels I read the summer after sixth grade. Best to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open for now.

And finally, there is my say-nothing-but-leave-no-doubt-of-my-true-opinion situation. Jeeezus, squeeeze us. How old am I now? Have I learned nothing in the 43 years since I was 10 years old? In this case, not speaking up is just plain childish. Chicken shit. Not helpful to me, not helpful to the colleague. Not helpful.

Why is it so hard to be silent in some situations and so difficult to speak up in others?

Small mysteries, but they are the stuff of my life.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

I saw slightly fictionalize it all and blog away! You'll feel better, and so will we, because now we are DYING with curiosity!

mamatulip said...

Good question. If someone tells me something in confidence I won't breathe a word, unless that person is in jeopardy. And even then, I have a hard time 'spilling the beans', so to speak.

Stacy said...

It is too hard for me to keep a secret, I usually pick one safe person I can sound off to, someone totally unrelated to the situation. Of course I am available to listen. If you were wondering. Sometimes we need to bounce things off of a third disinterested party, if we didn't there would be no Shrinks now would there?

kario said...

I can sympathize, my dear. Perhaps you could spill the beans to your dog? Not quite as fun, but at least you could say it all out loud.

Amber said...

You mean you don't have the answer? Crap. I was counting on knowing all this stuff by the time I was 40!


Deb said...

I've found my middle-aged memory to be a great help here. People tell me things in confidence and then I promptly forget them so telling is not much of a problem.

The courageous conversations are another issue altogether. When I'm meant to clear something with someone my mind won't shut up until I've spilled.

I love how you've woven these challenges together!

I'm with Carrie - the curiosity is killing me here.

Kim said...

Ditto Carrie: changing the details and blogging about this will 1. give you a forum to express and work through your thoughts, and 2. satisfy the curiosity of your readers!