Why Less Privacy Often Means Better Relationships

Why Less Privacy Often Means Better Relationships

I am a huge fan of privacy. Ask me any time and I’ll tell you I am a very private person. This despite my very public side in social media, speaking and on Medium.com among other online outlets.

I control my privacy and what the world sees. People know a lot about me — I put a lot out there. People also don’t know a lot about me — there’s a lot I don’t put out there.

And good relationships are about boundaries. I explored one area of boundaries in my article on catcalling and I plan to do more exploration of that important topic and other related topics.

Experts will tell you boundaries are important in relationships. And almost everyone will agree there is some area for privacy even in the most intimate of relationships. Few would argue that a guy is wrong to go behind his girlfriend’s back to plan his way of proposing to her and to obtain the ring. Few would say a business partner was wrong to hide a 50th birthday party from the co-founder of her company.

It gets a little murky in the middle between privacy for surprises (which no one would disagree with) to extreme privacy for privacy’s sake or to hide unfair dealing.

As I look into this issue more and more the very private side of me sees very real reasons to change my behavior.

Could it be that less privacy means better relationships?

Why is that?


They are Already Wondering

The truth is, whether it’s a business relationship or a romantic one, people are already wondering what you are up to. Do they trust you? What are you hiding?

So many issues go back to trust. Sure we are supposed to trust our business partners and our romantic partners. But trust takes time.

And in a world where most of us have had broken promises (see my article on doing Business With Liars) actions do speak louder than words.

So if they are wondering anyway why not bring some clarity and relief?


Discussion Sets Expectations

It’s not always easy to talk about private matters, especially when we think it will upset the other person and violate their expectations. But that’s just why we need to talk about the issues more — expectations.

So often when business partners come to my office upset about their other partner’s actions it often comes down to expectations. I hear things like “I didn’t think they’d found a competitive business.” Or “I thought they’d bring that customer to our business.” And the common thread is one person violated the expectations of the other.

The same seems to apply to romantic relationships too. When one partner is upset with the other it almost always traces back to expectations. A lie that violated prior expectations. An action or inaction that one partner perceives violated prior expectations.

So the more we can discuss the more we can get into the open and the less missed expectations we’ll have.


Disclosure Allows Corrections

As a sister to setting expectations, full and open discussion allows corrections to the future course. If one person is thinking of taking an action telling the other party, in advance, allows a full discussion of the next steps and the consequences.

When Business Partner A tells Business Partner B, in advance, that Business Partner A is going to open a side business there is little chance of hurt feelings. When Business Partner A opens the business and Business Partner B finds out later you can see how Business Partner B might be upset about his or her inability to give input and correct the direction.

This happened to me recently. One of my business associates came to me early in the process to disclose a relationship they have with a potential competitor of mine. We corrected our direction and all is well. Had I found out later the outcome may have been very different.


How Do We Get There?

So how do we get to less private relationships that work better?

We need to start thinking more about the relationship and less about ourselves. It’s not just our right to privacy at stake. It’s their comfort. It’s their rational fears.

Just a little more openness could go a long way and change an entire dynamic.

In the end isn’t the relationship more valuable to you? If you know the answer to that question you know what to do.

By: The Our Shawn McBride who is constantly studying the Future of Business as the host of The Future Done Right(TM) Show. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.

One of my recurring themes on Medium.com is looking at what words mean. Here are some prior articles on the subject:

Why Sorry is Misused

How “unprofessional” is misused

And for some completely different topic from me check out Why I’ve Given Up On Work-Life Balance.

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