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Secrecy—How to Know if You Can Trust Someone

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“If you wish another to keep your secret, first keep it to yourself.” Seneca

Everyone has secrets, ranging from inconsequential to momentous.

Secrecy is an integral part of the human experience, largely having to do with the mostly harmless natural defense mechanism to maintain your peace of mind and save face.

For example, you don’t announce to your Facebook friends the graphic details of your most recent red-hot fling to save yourself the embarrassment, even though such posts would be exceedingly entertaining and could make you a social media star.

Sometimes you’re required to share your secrets, such as within a business or investment partnership.

Secrecy is desirable in matters of confidentiality; discretion is necessary to protect proprietary information.

Although it’s feasible extreme secrecy can be a serious liability in partnerships, keeping one’s mouth shut is generally considered advantageous. As long as the intent isn’t to deceive, and extreme withholding doesn’t infringe on trust between associates, it won’t cause problems. 

Of all the personality traits I consider in my character analyses, secrecy is one of the most fascinating for me to examine. It’s very easy for some to keep secrets, but impossible for others.

Extremes are easy to discern, particularly involving people who can’t keep it zipped even if their life depended on it.

Other than my or another professional’s analyses to warn you ahead of time, a way to know if you can trust someone is to spend a lot of time with them. Unfortunately, you open yourself up to a lot of risk in doing so.

It’s okay to keep secrets. In fact, it’s necessary in many cases, such as guarding exclusive information or protecting someone’s safety.

Make sure you avoid trusting the wrong person, but also avoid unnecessary, extreme withholding.

Copyright © 2017 Scott Petullo

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