Be careful what you share and who you share with!

Last year, I wrote about friends falling out and then going on to reveal things that were shared in confidence when the friendship was good – and as bad as this behaviour is, what I fear most is people you trust sharing things communicated in confidence to your detriment! As I pondered what to write about this week, there were a couple of incidents that had left me thinking about sharing things that are personal or important to us with people. We are social beings and we sometimes want to connect with people – however, sometimes we share things that can later be used against us.  I read a post on social media last week where the writer was sharing an experience of when they had let a co-worker into their home and this person had gone back to their work place to share certain information about them.  For this person, it was not the information shared that was the issue, it was the fact that this person had shared their personal space and decided to broadcast it to everyone – suddenly people were asking this person about personal stuff in their home! The writer of the social media post shared that this experience made them think about what they share with people – to consciously decide who and what to share. Seeing this post coupled with the incidents that had happened last week gave me a lot to think about.

Last week, I had someone close to me share with me their suspicions of someone in her circle taking information shared to someone this close friend was not on good terms with. To be honest, I was disappointed this had happened but I was not surprised – see for a while this person had been sharing that they were also not on good terms with this other person, but I had observed differently! I think what this person failed to see was that because they were in this social circle did not mean they had to be enemies with people the other people in the group were not friends with! As adults, I think its maturity to understand that we can have different circles of friends and at no point should we lie about our relationship with others to create a false impression that lead people to let down their guard only for information shared to be used against them! So I asked if this friend wanted to ask this person from her circle why they were sharing information shared in confidence? But my friend and her circle were unwilling to do this because of how quickly this person plays the victim – so they have agreed on a plan on how to deal with this person. Though I felt they should ask, I also understood and respected the action plan they had put in place to protect the rest of the group from this person.

This incident reminded me of a time when I was in a trio-friendship – I remember having lunch with one of the people in this friendship. My discomfort started when the other person was not able to make it but conversations were had in different chats to the group chat we were all on. That was my first sign to not show up at this lunch – but even I know that I can be naive sometimes and went anyway. It was at this lunch where I shared more than I should have and this information was used against me and I have not been able to tell my side of what was discussed till now. I should have listened to my gut because from the moment we sat down, this person started sharing information that others had shared with her, including the other person in the trio. One particular story about what had happened between our other friend and a guy she liked was a story I carefully avoided a couple of times because this other friend talked vaguely about it but never shared details with me and I did not want to know from someone else. To be honest, when this friend went on to misrepresent what was said, I wanted to retaliate, but I did not get the chnace to and as I have grown, I have come to realise that these bad incidents help us  mature. It made me appreciate that it is okay to not always tell your side of the story.

I have been in several situations where I have been accused of not wanting to connect and to be honest, my reasons have been because of sharing too much in the past to the wrong people and what I shared being used against me. Even now, I am constantly thinking about sharing information and the people I share it with – I am having to review this frequently in all my social and professional circles. While I am careful about what I share, I also like to think about how I share what has been shared with me – because, lets face it, it is a two way street. I must be very careful that I do not betray the trust of others or use information I am privy to, to the detriment of others. I am learning to be cautious of people who always seem to be present when certain information was being shared or always seem to know something about everyone. By all means, know what you know about others, but please don’t share it with me – especially if I am not on the best of terms with them. 

I get particularly annoyed when I share with people how I feel about a certain situation, person or event and they go on to share this information with others without my knowledge. In these instances, I always feel that my power to control my own narratives has been taken away from me and unfortunately, when these people go on to tell others what has been shared, they never stick to the facts. There have been instances in the past where I have accepted what had happened and moved on but recently, I have started making the people who do this aware that I know what had happened and leave them to decide if they want to apologise, help me understand or try to make excuses for behaving the  way they did. Over the years, as I have grown, I have come to realise that people would often share information about you to others to paint you in a bad light. In my experience, these malicious acts have broken up several promising relationships and when these people had taken the spot of the people they discredited, it had all been short lived because they lacked character!

If you find that what you are sharing is finding its way to people you did not want to share with or being used against you, then it is time to start being extra careful about what you share and who you share it with. Also, perhaps it is time to start having honest conversations with people when they share information about you without your knowledge – give them a chance to help you understand why it was done. I know there are people out there who will intentionally share information to set people against each other – if that is you, stop it! Sometimes life happens and emotions get the best of us leading to us sharing more than we would have liked to or even share things we did not want to share at all- and if this information is shared with you, do keep it to yourself. Do not go round sharing it with others to make yourself look good while tarnishing others reputation or destroying their trust. If you do find that you have shared information entrusted to you – do the decent thing and apologise.

Thank you for always taking time to read, comment and share your experiences. Let’s effect the change we need by sharing our experiences.

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