Confidential conversations create a very strong signal of being part of a binary choice. Either you are chosen to be a part of a discussion or you are not.
If you are not, it feels like someone is hiding something from us. That what is being discussed is super important and that I am not worthy to be part of it. This then leads us to create our own stories as to what took place or to explain actions we see taken following a confidential conversation.
In today’s world of transparency, confidential conversations don’t feel right. If you are part of one, you might even feel uncomfortable saying to someone that you cannot share what was discussed. Most times, confidential conversations are always viewed from the perspective of those that are excluded.
But how does confidentiality help the participants that are included in those types of conversations? Both in personal and group conversations?
Confidentiality provides a safe place for those in the room to share their thoughts, doubts, uncertainty, competing ideas, or dissenting opinions openly. It builds the trust between all participants to not hide their thoughts but rather to add to the understanding of the entire group by being honest.
Believing in the promise that there will be no judgment or retribution for what is shared. Understanding the process to first increase awareness, perspective & knowledge before suggesting or deciding on a direction that can be agreed upon.
This is what most people get wrong about confidential conversations. They mistakenly view it as signaling the importance of a topic but miss the necessary process of increasing awareness, perspective & knowledge first before forming their own points of view in order to suggest a more informed effective solution to the issue being discussed.
Invoking confidentiality creates the expectation of depth of conversation for those that participate. Not superficiality. It signals the need for honesty and not deception. Where explaining the process once in a confidential conversation, is where the leverage of this participatory discussion reveals itself. For the good of all persons involved.