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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

A Secret Worth Knowing – Shhhhhhh!

My Director of Client Relations, Zan, jokes that the fastest way to spread news during the time she worked for a Fortune 30 Company was to tell 1 person a secret and ask them not to tell anyone. Within 2 days she knew the entire sales and field work force would know the "secret" information. As a psychologist I hear secrets and private information daily. Many times when I'm told a secret it's the first time that person has revealed it to anyone.

Knowing how to use secrets in a productive manner will empower you to Stay in the Smart Zone.

I was intrigued when I recently saw Frank Warren, author of 5 books reporting the secrets of others, on the Today Show. For several years people have posted their secrets on his website or mailed in their secrets to him on a postcard. In this Today Show interview he said, "I think that in my own life, I was struggling with secrets from my childhood. And so in one sense, this was a way for me to reconcile with parts of my past that I'd been struggling with." He also went on to say that the act of writing down one's secrets can be a freeing experience.

The notion of secrets is a component of our society. Secrets can be serious and harmful and I DO NOT take this subject lightly. Secrets about abuse, addiction, neglect and dishonesty can define people and their outlook on the world.

Use these Smart Moves when you have a secret:

  • Secrets can bring happiness. Think of a surprise party your friends are planning or a gift someone is about to receive. Maybe a friend is expecting a baby and waiting for the right moment to tell the news. Most people would agree, these are secrets you should keep. Click here to read about business secrets worth keeping.

  • Secrets give you perceived power over someone else. "I know something you don't know - nana nana boo boo." This may sound like elementary school but grown ups do this, too. Think about it. Even at work knowing secrets can give you an edge over your coworkers or competitors. This type of power can be dangerous and even illegal. Proceed with caution.

  • Secrets give you Brownie points. Telling secrets can elevate your status with other friends. Think about how you feel when someone reveals a secret to you. Letting others in on your secret gives them a stronger connection with you and vise versa.

  • Secrets can cause anxiety. Keeping secrets often prevents people from dealing with the problem at hand. According to Timothy Cole, Ph.D. keeping secrets leads to increased stress, anxiety, and it often makes people think about the issue more frequently. He also says, "Revealing secrets is very helpful when it is done right; that is, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Revealing secrets can reduce stress, it helps people let go of an issue and think about it more clearly."

  • Confidence in your confidant. We tell secrets because we trust others not to reveal them. Remember Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal? In reality, people are pretty likely to tell your secret - even if it's just to their spouse or best friend. It's human nature. Have confidence in the person you confide to.

  • Know the Smart Zone Secret. If you have attended my presentations you know that I end all of them with the Smart Zone Secret which is to take the focus off yourself. Watch this video of me revealing the Smart Zone Secret. Now that is a secret worth telling!

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