Jul. 14th, 2012

lloll4: ice lolly shaped like Mickey Mouse (ponyo grabs ham)
Also, this post is likely to be emblematically ironic of me being a blabbermouth.

Had dinner the other day with an old friend and discussed, among other things (including a moment when I realised I was, like, incapable of discussing philosophy), how she felt burnt out at her job and was thinking of maybe having a career change. Friend works for the government involving something confidential that she's been very discreet about - this will become (?) relevant in a while. So, we were discussing if she were really serious about a career change it would mean possibly getting references and those would have to come from either her boss or a trusted colleague.

And she said she couldn't because that would mean having to reveal her career plans.

ME: But you could talk to someone you trusted, y/n? And ask them to keep it quiet. You've been working there for so long, there's got to be someone.
SHE: The people in my office have revealed personal stuff without meaning to. I've witnessed it.
ME: *WTF?!* But *maybe I'm being idealistic here* they work with confidential stuff, they should be able to keep their mouths shut about a minor personal thing! Especially after you've asked them to keep it quiet!
SHE: No, really, they are good people. But it's just that they make a casual comment and personal stuff comes out.
ME: *still wtf-ing* So what you're saying is, the people you work with have loose lips.
SHE: They don't mean to! It's just that because the work we do is confidential, so we let our guard down when it comes to personal stuff.
ME: *am not seeing the logic* But you just said that you don't share much personal stuff with them. It's not like you're all a big cosy happy family there. *because if you were, then you'd feel comfortable discussing your career plans with them* You keep work separate from personal. Ergo, if you talked to a trusted colleague about a personal matter, you'd expect that matter to be kept under wraps, not blurt it out in the pantry or something.
SHE: You don't understand, you don't work in my office. You don't know what it's like.
ME: Well, yes. But- *wtf* So what it comes down to is, they can't be trusted with personal stuff. They can't be trusted to be discreet.
SHE: Well, it's the pressure of having a job like ours. We deal with confidential matters that we can't discuss it with other people, so we tend to be-
ME: Loose-lipped when it comes to other matters.
SHE: It's hard to describe it when you don't know what my office is like.

Uh-huh. Very true; I conceded her point. I have zero experience with, let's say, super-duper-sekrit government stuff; I have no idea what such departments are like. Maybe no one is trustworthy enough to talk to about a career change in such an office *wtf?* Maybe it's a problem of those particular persons. (Still wtf-ing. I dunno if I should trust my government when it appears that its workers have LOOSE LIPS.)

But I have worked in normal offices with normal commercial secrets (of varying importance) and look, we've all had to be discreet about work at one point or another. I don't blab about work to other people outside of the office, much less personal stuff where I have been asked, you know, to keep quiet about. I just keep quiet. I don't care what the atmosphere of your office is like: if a colleague tells you something and asks you to keep it quiet, then by gum you do not blab it while getting a coffee at the pantry or whatever.

I don't think this is an extraordinary expectation whatever line of work you are in, or how cosy you are with your colleagues. Yes, there are blabbermouths, but the solution is to talk to people who are not blabbermouths. You can't just explain it away by saying, "We handle confidential stuff and therefore we can't keep a secret." Because it makes no sense.

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