This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Dear Carolyn • I recently received some exciting, but private, news that I shared with my family members. Unfortunately, threatening to share sensitive information with others is a weapon some members of my family have used in conflicts. When I told each group, I explicitly stated my desire to tell the others personally. I recently found out that, despite my clear communication of my own expectations, one part of my family told the other. I'm upset they didn't respect what I had asked, but don't want to make this into a bigger deal than it is. Should I confront the "leakers"?
Dear Communication • Confront them, don't confront them, whatever you need to sleep well at night. But do recognize this: When you make expectations clear to people who use sensitive information as a weapon, you're essentially arming the nuke. If you want to retain control of your news, then either don't tell the leakers anything, or tell them all at once. Radical third choice: Stop caring who says what to whom. It's ultimate liberation from those who leverage gossip. However, for you to get there, you're going to have to take a long emotional journey, since you, too, leverage information by controlling its release.
Re: Controlling information • This hits a nerve with me since I'm also a person who shares information how I want to share it, and expects others to keep things private if I ask them to. Why do you think a desire to keep things private is such a marked negative thing? And why do you consistently link it to controlling behavior?
Dear Anonymous • Because it's linked to controlling behavior. It's one thing to ask occasionally for discretion. However, it's another to want the last word on anything said about you. And a need to guard information tightly, I've seen over the years, often stems from a general discomfort with letting things take their own course. If you look at any warning list of controlling behaviors, you're going to see a theme of discomfort with leaving things to others, which is really distrusting anyone not oneself.
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