They say, “No man is an island.” Therefore, many of us feel the need to vent about things that trouble us from time to time, and it’s comforting when we can vent to someone who we can trust and who will never betray our confidence. Oftentimes, we call these people, “sounding boards.” And after all, we are only human and there is that strong need to communicate.
Sounding boards are great as long as you feel confident they are “leak proof.” BUT are you sure your sounding board is not going to share your secrets, or complaints even if the two of you have a disagreement about something in the future? How positive are you that your sounding board is the type who will never say, “I’m not supposed to tell you this but…”? How can you be sure? Do you have a contract drawn up? No. You’re sounding board could start spilling the beans if you’re not careful.
I used to blurt out my personal life troubles all the time at work when I was younger. Who ever wanted to hear all that? My life was practically an open book. And looking back, it’s so embarrassing to admit it. It’s like having one of those nude in the classroom dreams. I felt so exposed. Good thing I wasn’t the only one spilling my guts. The gossip trail sizzled daily throughout the office and soon, nobody’s life was secretive. Fortunately, most of us got along pretty well together work-wise and socially. Thank goodness but had I known what I know now, I would have been a little more mysterious and quiet about my private life. Let ‘em guess what’s going on! That’s hard to accomplish for someone with my bombastic personality and boisterous laugh who likes to commiserate with others. Somehow, without sacrificing one’s outgoing and friendly nature, I believe it can be done. Somewhere there must be a good balance. I’ve acquired a saying regarding gossip, “The less I know, the better off I am.” Without the rudeness of that tone, perhaps changing the subject is in order to avoid any embarrassment from either party.
Since those “General Hospital” days, I try to steer clear of hurtful gossip and keep my life to myself. Yes, really. I now vent my gripes to my boss if there is anything work related that’s upsetting me. So she is my sounding board at work. For all intents and purposes, some of my family and friends are my sounding boards. I’m the oldest of 7 strong, who I know I can count on anytime, plus I have my best friend from high school who knows me better than I do. I can guarantee these sounding boards are leak proof. They are not only sounding boards; they are testimonials to my good character.
I like to think I’m a pretty good listener. So, I love to hear what’s going on with others and their families; the good things that occur, a co-worker who volunteers her talents at her church, how well children are doing in school, a husband who just got promoted, etc. This is called cordial conversation. This positive interaction feels good, and I’d like to think it’s mutual. To me, this does not feel good, “Did you hear the latest about so and so?” Being a good listener, it’s pretty tempting to chime in and respond, “No, what’s the buzz?” But at the end of the day, I don’t feel good about it. Besides, I’m a positive person. I hate adversity.
Today, you have to be so careful not to malign or spread gossip about a co-worker. If it’s not against your personal code of ethics, it may be against your company’s. You’d better read that handbook again. If you have a beef with a co-worker, go through the chain of command or confront the person directly with your supervisor present – avoiding fisticuffs of course!
Once, I made the big mistake of asking a co-worker to listen to a gripe of mine, and she didn’t really want to hear me out. She seemed distracted and disinterested. What was very urgent and important to me seemed to fall on deaf ears. I was embarrassed to say the least. Because of that alone, I wonder if what I had spoken to her about leaked out to others. I have to chalk up that experience to another lesson learned. The biggest of all is to be very cautious of who you can trust and who you can’t. In this day and age, not only what we say verbally can derail one’s career, but we are susceptible to being victimized or guilty through all the technology gizmos available to us as pathways of communication.
If your confidence was betrayed by someone at your workplace, what did you do about it?