A couple of years ago, I was in New York City for work. I had taught on a Saturday and I would be teaching again on the following Monday, so I had a rare and beautiful Sunday without work in one of my favorite cities in the country. I took the subway way up to the top of Central Park and then walked and ran back towards my hotel. As I neared my hotel, I stopped at a Japanese restaurant to get a Bento box. I decided to eat there instead of taking it back to my hotel to eat alone. Big mistake. At least I see that, now. I had no idea, then. When my food came, I realized I only had chopsticks, and although I have had lessons on how to use them, let's just say those lessons never "stuck". So, I did the unimaginable. I quietly motioned the server over and asked if I could get a fork. Suddenly, with no warning at all, she yelled (I exaggerate sometimes, but I promise you I am not, in this case) across the restaurant, "She wants a fork!" If I could have crawled under the table, I assure you I would have done so immediately. Instead, in an instant, all heads in the restaurant whipped their heads toward the culprit (not the server----ME!) as if they were pitying me and shaming me at the same time. Nowhere to turn, I had no choice to eat in shamed peace. I wanted to say, "Could you not have kept that little need of mine a secret?"
Do you have colleagues at your school or other business that you know for certain you would never share any intimate details of your personal or work life? I'm guessing, for most all of us, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes". After all, trusting relationships are very difficult to come by. Just yesterday, I was talking in a group chat with about eight of my dearest friends from college. I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would tell any one of them ANYthing and know it wouldn't go any further if I didn't want it to. Contrast that with teachers (in my courses I teach or from my own experience working with school districts around the globe) who say, "Don't say anything you want kept a secret in front of ________ because it will become front page news as soon as you do." Worse yet, sometimes teachers say it is their school leader who is the culprit of sharing personal information with others.
Why do people do this? I believe, most of the time, the spouting of information may actually come from a good place. Imagine the scenario in which a colleague tells you in confidence that they had a biopsy done and they were awaiting the results. You decide to share with your department under the guise of "We should be praying for her" or "I'm sure she wouldn't mind the rest of you knowing so you can send good thoughts her way". However, unwittingly perhaps, we have betrayed that colleague's confidence by sharing confidential information with people that would not be privy to that information were it not for us spilling the proverbial beans.
Another reason I suspect people tell secrets is to be "that person" who always has the "latest data" first. They like to be in the know, so people will think more highly of them. Without meaning to do so, however, they are actually doing the polar opposite; they will be trusted less and less. After all, if that person shares secrets with you about others, what do you think they are doing if you share personal information with them?
I have friends here in Tucson whom I call "closed-mouth friends". I trust them with my sometimes inner-most thoughts that might not be popular to share in public. And I trust with my heart and soul that they will not take my information elsewhere. I have yet to be burned, so I think I have chosen them wisely. My spiritual advisor once told me to "stick with the winners", and I believe that are simply the winners---people I can trust with the important but private feelings I have that I don't necessarily want shouted across the Japanese restaurant just south of Central Park. I read a Portuguese proverb that said, "Tell your friend a lie. If he keeps it a secret, tell him the truth." I'm not quite sure how I feel about this seemingly shady practice, but I know for certain I am cautious with whom I share my private affairs.
Yes, I need a fork --- you are all aware now---- but it's because I chose to tell you.