Is confidentiality a thing of the past?
This old faculty joke is funny because, like all good humor, it’s partially true:Question: "On this faculty committee, what is meant by confidentiality?" Answer: "Confidentiality means that you can share the information -- but only with your closest friends."It’s not only faculty meetings that suffer leakage. Many boards and committees have real trouble defining and practicing confidentiality. The temptation is always present to share insider information with close friends, but only after covering yourself with the obligatory request, "Please don’t share this confidential information with anyone! OK?"
Presidents and senior administrators know how valued confidentiality is in the community, but they also wrestle with its practice. Does "confidentiality" include my board chair, my spouse, my professional coach, my kitchen cabinet, or my closest colleagues? With whom can I share my thoughts? Many board chairs know through painful experience that the larger any board group is, the more pointless it is to demand confidentiality. The shelf life on confidential information in a large board may amount to just a few days.In academic communities, two factors complicate the practice of confidentiality: (1) the community's desire for transparency and (2) the ubiquity of technology and social media. Any committee meeting, social gathering, board debate, class discussion, lecture, meal at the cafeteria -- indeed, any stated opinion -- is now public, or could become public very quickly.That’s our new reality. What was once private and restrictive is now public and transparent. And after something becomes public, it's hard to take it back, apologize, correct the record, or scream foul. What you thought was confidential is now on your neighbor's computer. So what's an academic community to do? Here are two practical suggestions:1. Define confidentiality in detail -- each and every time it is used.
2. Build a communication strategy.
The goal here is to be realistic and intentional about both defining confidentiality and practicing communication. Silence isn't golden. In fact, silence can be dangerous. Communicating effectively, faithfully, and efficiently is the objective. And, of course, not breaking that commandment about "bearing false witness."
Image credit: "Oak Ridge Wise Monkeys"
Roles & Responsibilities
Explore these additional resources that may be of interest to you.
The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.
Thursday, February 15, 2024, 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Presenter Donna Alexander, President & CEO of Advoxum Global Strategies, offers best practices for navigating conflict and crisis. She examines the crucial elements of defining conflict and crisis, identifying, and prioritizing affected stakeholders, utilizing effective communication strategies, and ultimately, executing a plan of action. Click here to register.
FEBRUARY 22, 2024, 1 PM (ET)
An In Trust Center Resource Grant offers member schools a chance to explore innovation at their institutions through a matching grant opportunity of up to $15,000. Join us for this 30-minute information session, including Q&A, as we provide details on eligibility requirements, funding priorities, application process. Previous grantees are eligible to apply as long as they are not within our current funding cycle. Click to register.
Presenter Donna Alexander, President & CEO of Advoxum Global Strategies, offers best practices for navigating conflict and crisis. She examines the crucial elements of defining conflict and crisis, identifying, and prioritizing affected stakeholders, utilizing effective communication strategies, and ultimately, executing a plan of action.
VISIT OUR FULL EVENTS LIST
In Trust Center provides Resource Consulting to our members at no charge. Contact us today and let us guide you to the most helpful resources for your situation.
100 W 10th St, Suite 703
Wilmington, DE 19801-6614
Phone: (302) 654-7770