Dear Preston: A Colleague Shared My Secret And I Am Humiliated



Dear Preston:

I am in a really difficult situation right now. I went out for drinks with another planner and we bonded (or so I thought) and wound up sharing a few personal stories.  Well, I foolishly shared something very personal about my life, and though she assured me that she would never share, well, the story is out.  She swears she said nothing, but the bottom line is I am humiliated.  How do I save my reputation?



Dear Red-Faced:

First of all, I don’t think you have anything at all to be embarrassed about.  The grown woman who betrayed your trust does. While everyone enjoys a little story now and then, trust me when I tell you that is not a quality anyone of quality enjoys seeing in another, most especially in a professional relationship. We work in a confidential business and spilling trusted secrets is not only tacky, it’s a liability.

Red-faced, I wish there were a way for me to have sat down with you before this experience (which may have been avoided in this particular case, but not in a lifetime). This kind of thing happens a lot. The bad news is that we live in a world of voyeurs and would-be (wanna be) gossip columnists. You don’t even have to do anything all that interesting to be spoken about because people make gossiping, judging and commenting their hobbies. This is also the good news in that there is always a new story.

My advice to you is the same advice that I follow in my own life and give to those around me; live your life as you see fit, prepare yourself for naysayers, critics, rude blurters and “haters” (as my younger employees refer to them).  In the future, I suggest you share your personal life with those who have earned the right, but if you’re someone who connects and shares your own information with others, so be it. No one gets to any point in life without making mistakes, trusting the wrong people, going down the wrong road or flat-out falling on their faces. This is life and it is also what makes us interesting and inspiring to another.  If you do good work and are professional and trustworthy in the eyes of your clients and colleagues, your reputation will be just fine. I say focus less on worrying about what everyone else thinks and focus on less judgement of yourself.

Readers: Have you ever had a colleague betray your trust? How did you handle it?