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July 16, 2019

Bring Back Discretion to the Workplace


My neighbor down the block is the classic Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched. She knows the comings and goings of just about everyone in the neighborhood, and proudly overshares what she knows with anyone who will listen.

When problems in the neighborhood arise, it seems she’s talking with everyone about the issue except the person who would be able to resolve it. That’s potentially harmful and hurtful.

Know someone like this in the workplace?

Discretion is Undervalued

Even beyond discretion about proprietary or confidential information, information is shared like one’s passing out leaflets to anyone who will listen. And one can be virtually sure that if someone is gossiping with you about someone else, they most likely will be talking with others about you.

Discretion is an undervalued quality, and my wish is that we bring it back to the workplace.

A former boss used to say, “Consider everything you see and hear in the workplace as confidential, unless I tell you otherwise.” I think that’s a bit extreme but I like the idea in concept. Discretion means knowing when you should share information and when you should be silent.

Discretion also is about knowing that just because you know something, doesn’t mean you need to share it. And when in doubt, leave it out. 

My Mom used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Now that’s advice I can live by.

How might you help bring back discretion to the workplace?

—David Grossman

Click below to download this free eBook—Respectful Authenticity: Bringing Your Best to Work and Bringing Out the Best in Others—is written for leaders who wish to bring more of who they truly are to the workplace.

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