What the heck is that??? A friend of mine called me yesterday upset because word “got out” she was sighted at the human resource offices earlier in the week. She had a flurry of people come up to her over the next few days, using the same silly phrase… “I heard a confidential rumor you were in with HR the other day”. ‘Clearly we all discussed it behind your back and came up with this silly phrase to approach you and make you uncomfortable.’
First of all, I thought HR was suppose to be a confidential place. Maybe “HR” (the mysterious figure behind the black cloak) needs to find a new office or a new way for people to engage. If the world is going to know employees are coming to see you, I suspect they wont! Not breeding too much of a speak up culture…
But what this really triggered for me is, ‘Why are some people bullies?’. Are they bullies? Are they nosey? Everyone knows HR is confidential, so why are you sniffing around for more confidential info. I might also add in this particular situation my friend is 1 female out of 30 men. A red flag I can’t even get into….If you genuinely want to help or care about what is going on with someone, why not start there? “Hey, checking in with you making sure everything is ok. ” “If you ever want to talk about something, have a thought partner, my door is always open…” Or “hey wanna grab a coffee?” Not… “I heard a rumor about you…” “Hey I know this is confidential, so I shouldn’t be talking about it, but I am going to say ‘confidential rumor’ to open up a can of worms about something I know I shouldn’t be talking about…”. What is this “high school mean girls?”
Here is my advice… have authentic conversations with people. Leverage your emotional intelligence to engage in the situation appropriately. I do genuinely believe that people come with positive intent. But when I hear things like ‘rumor’ or ‘confidential’, my cackles are raised… We have muddled knowledge and power. If I have more knowledge about what is happening within our ecosystem I am more powerful in the hierarchy. Yes, knowledge is power, so educate yourself of course, but not about others personal matters.
What’s your take? Do you think people are nosey? Do you think they genuinely care, or are wanting the information for their own purposes? Have you ever heard this phrase, ‘confidential rumor’ before, and if so, what does it mean for you?