“No receipt openeth the heart, but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it” (Francis Bacon).
A FRIEND WHO WILL MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY WITHIN THE RELATIONSHIP IS A TREASURE. We should not expect to have more than a few such friends in a lifetime, but when we do have them, we should not underestimate their value in our lives.
The word “confidentiality” comes from the Latin fidere (“to trust”). It describes the state of a relationship in which at least one of the parties is able to “confide” in the other, having “confidence” that the thing being entrusted will not be made known. For example, you probably trust your doctor to maintain confidentiality in regard to the personal medical matters you divulge to him or her.
Trust, then, is the very core of confidentiality. When you confide private information to someone else, you are entering into a trust agreement with them. They are to keep the confidence just as if they were safeguarding a prized physical possession you asked them to take care of. Obviously, you should not do this with anyone who is not trustworthy — and by that I mean someone who does not have a solid track record of faithfulness, reliability, and steadfastness.
It goes without saying that we appreciate those whom we can trust, but the more important question is: can others trust us? Are we capable of maintaining the same confidentiality that we desire from others? If so, then we have given a great gift to those who have to deal with us. And this is a gift that it takes many years to be able to give. A character that is known to be trustworthy is not acquired overnight, but it is well worth the years of self-discipline needed to build it up.
Certainly we should be careful about confidentiality in both directions. We shouldn’t carelessly confide in other people, but neither should we be careless in handling the trust they extend to us.
It is, perhaps, with our deepest sorrows that we should select our confidants the most carefully. We do well to share our griefs, but only with those who are utterly faithful . . . and tenderly understanding.
“If thou tellest the sorrows of thy heart, let it be to him in whose countenance thou mayest be assured of prompt consolation” (Saadi).