Degrees of Confidentiality

The Degrees of Confidentiality

A major element in establishing a trusting mentoring relationship is confidentiality, which means how the mentoring partners will handle any confidential or personal information that is shared in their interactions.

Amazingly, even when mentoring partners agree that their conversations will be confidential, confidentiality can still become a big stumbling block and problems arising from mishandling or misunderstanding it can even end the mentoring relationship.

When confidentiality becomes an issue in a mentoring pair, it typically happens because they do not have a common definition of “confidentiality”. A good way to avoid this problem is to agree at the start of the partnership exactly what and when disclosure can occur. Here are some options to consider. No one option is recommended – it’s best to use whatever the pair agree works best for them.:

Confidentiality Options – Degrees of Disclosure
Everything is confidential forever
All information Disclosure can only occur with prior permission Always
Everything is confidential unless disclosure is required in law Indefinitely
Disclosure of anything only with prior permission When there is a proven need to know
Disclosure of anything only to the protege’s direct supervisor Only when something important is a-risk
Some pre identified identified things can be disclosed, while others can not Always
The topic and goal of the discussions can be disclosed But not the details Always
Everything can be disclosed If doing so is in the best interests of the protege,
the organization, or the clients / customers
Whenever the mentor decides