How to Discourage Secretive Behavior From Members of Your Family / Team

The act of discovering trusted individuals around you to be partaking in secretive behavior which you’re not privy to is sometimes painful. Our relationships with others often come with unwritten rules as to what we’re preferably obligated to know about them.

When someone disturbs the balance of such assumed rules of secrecy (or lack thereof) your mind can go on a bender. The unveiling of others’ secretive behavior in one area of life encourages us to wonder whether those same individuals have more things they’ve kept us from knowing.

Where was our partner last weekend if they secretly used the excuse of going grocery shopping to stop by a local pub today?

How would you feel if a business partner began taking meetings about a potential sale of your company without properly consulting with you?

This article is about five tips you can universally implement to limit others’ secretive behavior.

Even the mere assumption that someone we trust is secretly acting in ways which we’d be upset with can ruin a relationship. The evidence doesn’t need to be on our side for us to become upset at someone’s secretive behavior. The potential for the presence of secretive behavior ruins our ability to reason logically.


Discourage Reciprocal Secretiveness

As a person who’s interested in the dynamics of keeping secrets and secretive behavior, you may have some secrets of your own. In keeping secrets from others, such as how much you earn at work, you’re sometimes forced to expose the fact that those secrets exist.

“I don’t feel comfortable telling you that.”

“I try not to tell anybody that.”

“I don’t know ;).”

Others are motivated to keep things secret from us when it’s obvious that we’re keeping secrets of our own from them. Reciprocating with secretive behavior is almost a necessity in our minds when we find out someone keeps secrets of their own from us.

That tendency to reciprocate is difficult to refrain from. Continuing to be open with someone who doesn’t trust us with certain pieces of information will inherently place us in a competitive disadvantage. Since they’re keeping something of some value from us, they’d have the advantage of knowing more about us than we know from them if we tell them our secrets.

Try to not be obvious and proud of the secrets you keep from others. Being sloppy in your communications about the secrets that you keep will encourage others to give you a taste of your own medicine. Keeping secrets doesn’t just involve keeping secretive information from others, it involves being low key in how you communicate about those secrets’ existence.

Be wary of direct questions from others about the things you’re trying to keep in secret. Such instances force us to unveil that secrets exist, but that we’re not willing to unveil them just yet. These instances feel like rejection to those who inquire, and they’re likely to begin reciprocating with secretive behavior of their own.

Here are some pointers on how to keep secrets while answering direct questions pertaining to those secrets.


Encourage a Perceived Sense of Autonomy in Decisions Being Made

Especially if you find yourself in a leadership position in your family life or in the professional world, secretive behavior by those around you is quite a common problem. Since you’d seen as leader in your contextual setting, people will be knowledgeable about your capacity to veto decisions.

The chances of people acting out in secret increase when they expect you to disagree with the suggestions they put forth.

It is thereby wise to not be rigid in your effort to propagate your best interests. Even if your best interests involve the betterment of others’ states, tolerate their input with an open mind. Do your best to discourage those around you in feeling that their input isn’t being acted on.

Hearing them out is often not enough to keep people satisfied in having their visions played out. Allowing to have control over the situation you have absolute control over is critical to keep them loyal in their acts.

Be willing to make a payment of some loss of control for the insurance of limiting secreting behavior from others. View this exchange as one in which you give up a sense of control for an increase in peace of mind.

Allow your subordinates to implement their (sometimes bad) ideas. Allow your kids to make some mistakes for the sake of feeling a sense of autonomy. Allow your friends to pick the movie,  the place to eat, and control the day’s activities.

Every blocked attempt of ours to control a situation encourages us to seek different avenues to implement those ideas. The people around you may elect to implement their plans in avenues which you don’t have an eye or ear on.


In the Professional World: One-on-One Time Repels Conspiratorial Thinking

The dynamics of everyday professional life seem to discourage the development of meaningful relationships in the workplace. In a strive for efficiency, the completion of goals, and the meeting of deadlines, leaders in the professional world err on the side of communicating with many rather than with the select few.

Offering little in ways of back and forth discourse, the accumulation of successive mass communications can understandably make subordinates feel unheard. A lack of adequate one-on-one time with members of your team will make you seem to be an icon to please rather than an individual to work with.

Individually spending (unscripted) time with members of your team seems to make a positive impact on their perception of you. As if being an almost win-win scenario, the things you impress them with, along with your imperfections, will tie them closer to you. The mutual sharing of time together seems be catalyze openness and trust between individuals.

By sharing your time with individual members of your teams, you’d do well to put up a barrier on the cognitive pathway toward acting out in secret. The individuals you spend time with will get to know you in a private scenario. Those individual one-on-ones will introduce an additional option to communicate with you in private in the mind of the individual you’re speaking with. It will be a door that’s left open for them to make use of when they have something secretive or private in nature to possibly discuss.

The goal is not to force people to tell you about their private wants and desires simply so they don’t act out on them prior to telling you about it. Rather, the goal is to give them every option of doing so if they so choose. Simply focus on doing your best to discourage people from having to act out in secret due to there being limited options to freely talk about secretive topics.


Don’t Allow Your Insecurities to Make You Pry for Information

There comes a point of diminishing returns when attempting to pop a blackhead from the surface of your skin. That blackhead can be lodged in tight. It may not be ready to be popped and flicked into the toilet. As you press, squeeze, and pick, you risk damaging the surrounding area of your skin. The skin you tortured puffs up and hugs the blackhead even more. You may leave a bruise, some scratches, and open up opportunities for bacteria to make that site home.

Pressing people for information is much the same. When you’re operating under the assumption of there being information that’s not being shared with you, the last thing you want to do is to press for that information.

The first disadvantage to pressing, and a rather obvious one, is unveiling the fact that you know about the existence of private information. Your knowledge of the existence of secretive behavior taking place will encourage those who are partaking in that secret behavior to scurry. They’ll shift, move, and adjust. They’ll close more doors, lower more blinds, and lock more cabinet doors. They’ll now have new information to act on whilst protecting their secret deeds.

The other, and more important disadvantage to pressing for secrets, is the tendency of people to swell and close shut akin to the skin surrounding the blackhead that just isn’t coming out.

As you press and inquire, the people who are unwilling to expose certain pieces of information won’t just refrain from telling, they’ll tend to privatize more information from you. In that sense, they’ll swell their secretive tendencies to encompass more information / behavior than before.

They’ll refrain from telling you even more things since you pressed so hard. The more you push, the less they’ll want you to know. They’ll view you as persistent, nosy, and a nuisance. They’ll fear that you’d press them on every little thing, thereby they’d be motivated to keep every little thing out of your sight.


Don’t Get Visibly Upset When You Find Out People’s Secret Acts

Avoid showing your distaste when the secret is unveiled after it’s too late for your intervention.

The plane tickets may already have been bought without your knowledge, and your son’s leaving for the UAE tomorrow. The selection of food has already been made for the office party you were organizing, and catering is delivering it at a time you didn’t agree to.

Counter-intuitively, showing your displeasure in the face of finding out about the secretive behavior of others does not encourage them to limit such acts. In our emotional states, we often believe that our displeasure will send the right message. However, our expression of displeasure is often perceived as punishment by the emotional stability of the ones around us. In an effort to limit feeling that sense punishment, people tend not to stop secretive behavior, but rather simply never tell you about that behavior existing.

You’d thereby encourage people to be more open with you in the future when you’re open to, and unhinged about, their secretive behavior of today. Of the many reasons they’ve kept something away from your perception, your reaction to it may have been an important factor in the decision. Once they see that their secrets didn’t affect your reaction the way they anticipated, they’d be likelier to let you in on their plans in the future.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.