50 Shades of Credibility
Recently, a donor asked a director at a nonprofit I am involved in, for some information about another stakeholder. The director politely declined citing that the information was confidential. It did not end there. The donor insisted that the questions be answered justifying it by mentioned there were rumors circulating. The director reiterated that the information was indeed privileged. The donor was reminded that this matter did not involve or affect the donor in any way. It was something that was already been resolved.
The donor tried again to rationalize and explain why the need for the information. It was clear this was a trust issue. The prying continued with trying to convince the director the information could be told, “just this once, in total confidence!”
The irony of this situation is laughable. First pressing for confidential or otherwise private information is bad manners. Second, if the director were to divulge the information, how credible would it be? This would negatively affect the director’s credibility and trust within the organization. Would anyone have faith in a colleague or friend who broke another’s trust to appease someone else? Would the information even be accepted? Like integrity, there are not 50 shades of credibility. You either are credible, or not.
Leaders often find themselves in situations where they have few or no one to confide in. It is part of the job. This can lead to stress, but an insistent coworker can make it more stressful than it needs to be.
This conversation ended with the director having to break off communication, telling the donor the topic was off limits.