One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
Kinda boils it all down, doesn’t it?
Stephen M. R. Covey’s excellent book The Speed of Trust makes a brilliant case that trust helps businesses move faster. To take advantage of the speed of trust, you have to act in a trustworthy way. Listen well. Don’t judge. And keep secrets. Trust you spent years building can be destroyed in a second.
As a psychologist and management consultant, I have used several simple techniques keep secrets and build trust among my clients. Here are 3 things I recommend for how to keep a secret and build solid trust in your own relationships:
1. Your mindset is key. My profession REQUIRES confidentiality. Ethical guidelines and laws protect confidentiality. None of that matters if I don’t personally value keeping private what someone tells me. And I do. In your business, you don’t need laws or ethical requirements to guide you. You just need a mindset that “What anyone tells me goes into a vault and only they have the key.” Maintain that value and you will never slip up and reveal something you shouldn’t.
2. Practice amnesia. According to the Mayo Clinic, amnesia is the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences. Having practiced mindfulness and meditation for years, I believe that regularly “clearing” your mind can help you avoid mistakenly sharing a secret. The goal is not to forget important things, but to clear your mind. This will also give you clearer focus during the day and it will help you act in accord with the mindset I wrote about above. If you haven’t read anything on mindfulness yet, Peace is Every Breath by Thich Nach Hanh is beautiful, powerful and effective.
3. When you’re asked if you know something, ask this question back. People often ask me a question like: “Do you know what happened in the staff meeting?” Or, “Did anyone tell you what Frank said about Janice?” When I am asked a question like that, I do not answer it. Instead, I ask this question back: “What do you want me to know about that?” This does two things. First, it re-focuses the conversation on what they want me to know, not what I already know. Second, it reinforces that if you ask me what I know, I’m not going to tell you. This is easier to do when you have the right mindset established and when you are focused in the present, because you will not be caught off guard.
Try those three things and see if it becomes easier and faster to grow trust with key members of your team, your organization and in your personal life, too.
Question: What other things do you do to show people you are trustworthy? Leave a comment below!