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Why Confidentiality Matters in Small Groups

Why Confidentiality Matters in Small Groups

Get Smart was a comedy television series in the ’60s about secret agents. It was one of my favorite shows to watch when I was a kid. Back then I had no idea that it could teach me about the need for a small group confidentiality agreement. 

The good spies worked for an agency called CONTROL and the evil spies worked for KAOS. Of course, there were times when CONTROL agents needed to discuss extremely sensitive information that needed protection. How did they do this? They used the Cone of Silence!

The Cone of Silence was a device that put a bubble around those talking so others weren’t supposed to hear the conversation. Watch this video clip to see the Cone of Silence in action.

The Small Group Cone of Silence

Before many of your members are going to share sensitive information, they need to know their information is protected from others finding out about it. They need assurances that they are in a safe environment.

Confidentiality is extremely important.

How can you set up a safe environment that incorporates confidentiality? Consider following these five tips, especially number three: the small group confidentiality agreement.:

1. Location, Location, Location

Meet at a location that is as private as possible.

If you meet at a public location, find a way to divide or move your group away from others. Ideally be outside of anyone’s listening range.

Meeting in a private home doesn’t automatically make you immune from being overheard. For example, if children are in the house, they might overhear conversations and pass them along to their friends.

Find a location that eliminates the possibility of anyone overhearing your conversations.

2. Be an Example

As the leader, refuse to discuss any of the conversations that take place within the group outside of the group.

Be the first to get vulnerable within your group. If you are willing to take the risk, others are likely to follow your example.

3. Small Group Confidentiality Agreement

Each small group participant should commit to a small group confidentiality agreement. A part of that agreement should stress the importance of confidentiality within the group.

By using a small group confidentiality agreement, members are committing to each other that what is said within the group stays within the group.

Every time a new participant attends your gatherings, he or she needs to agree to abide by the group agreement before participating in group discussions.

4. Group Reminders

Periodically mention to your group members the importance of confidentiality. This not only provides a reminder to them, but it also lets them know that you are always mindful of the need to give them a safe environment.

5. Turn Off Listening Devices

Consider powering off any listening devices in the area that could compromise your safe environment. These devices would include any voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant.

Follow these five tips to help create a safe environment of confidentiality that builds trust among your group members.

Question: Besides a small group confidentiality agreement, hat other tips do you have that reinforce the need for confidentiality within the group? 


This article on a small group confidentiality agreement originally appeared here.