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Gossip or Moral Lesson: Determining Your Intent

“What do you think of Matilda?”

My daughter’s friend asked me this question last week when I visited Montreal to spend a few days.

I had thoughts about Matilda and, frankly, they weren’t positive. My instinct was to remain silent and reveal nothing.


Working in HR for 20 years and now as a coach, people tell me lots of confidential information. I maintain confidentiality because it’s professional as well as ethical. Confidentiality allows people the space to explore thoughts and feelings in a trust-filled environment. Violating confidentiality destroys trust, hence, the reason I clam up.

I’ve noticed that, over time, my respect for confidentiality has gradually morphed from “keeping secrets” to “not sharing what I’m really thinking.” It happened slowly, without my awareness, until I eventually realized this isn’t particularly healthy.

A fine line exists between judgement and blameless discernment. Positive Intelligence describes the difference as being in saboteur mode, judgement, versus sage mode, blameless discernment. I’ve blurred the line between the two, seeing them as the same.

I’ve judged confidentiality as all-encompassing. Simply put, to be ethical, I thought I must always keep my mouth shut.

As a child I was taught, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

I firmly believe that what you put out in the world returns to you in equal measure. If I speak ill of others, others will speak ill of me. The same is true of speaking positively.

At the same time, at what point does this childhood maxim become toxic positivity? You know what I mean – that false, chirpy, avoidance-of-reality way of behaving.

I learn best by hearing life experiences from other people, and I suspect you do too.

Humans have a deep-rooted need for stories and the ones based on personal experience resonate most:

  • Think about Aesop’s Fables or Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Lessons in morality, taught for children’s ears;
  • Consider how many businesspeople enjoy reading biographies about other leaders. They want to apply the learnings to their own careers;
  • Podcasters like Mel Robbins say their top-ranked episodes are always the ones about success stories – how someone got from A to B.

Seeing confidentiality as all-or-nothing means none of the lessons from experiences or stories gets shared.

I need to identify my intent when asked to share my opinion or lessons learned that involve other people. Is my intent to wound (saboteur energy) or to heal (sage wisdom)?

If my intent is to wound, it’s gossip and I should clam up. That’s Judge Judy speaking. If I want to instruct, which can potentially lead to healing, maybe I can apply blameless discernment to the situation and find appropriate ways to share by hiding names and certain identifying life circumstances. I see that reading articles regularly.

Back to Matilda, whom you likely realize by now is a made-up name. I won’t share the context of how I know her because that’s an “identifying life circumstance.”

Intent: would I want my daughter or her close friend to know how to handle a person like Matilda? Yes, undoubtedly. My intent isn’t to wound Matilda but to teach them the lesson I learned.

So I did. I shared my personal experiences with Matilda. I explained that I ignored my gut reaction to her for too long. My gut warned me about Matilda when I met her, but I ignored it and let myself be swayed by pretty words instead. Then I got bitten.

My lesson was about trusting your intuition as another source of information and to look beyond the surface to what’s underneath.

I can maintain confidentiality while sharing lessons learned by allowing my sources to remain anonymous. It’s not about who, it’s about how and what.

You have to be open minded in order to grow. The coaching that Laura gave me opened my eyes to what and how I was doing things and allowed me to see the bigger picture. I am not done yet but I already see the changes in my everyday life.


I think coaching is a great way to help you clear your mind when you get stuck with overwhelming situations or when stepping into changes in your life.


Coaching is life changing. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and challenges your perspectives.  It is highly motivating and the exercises and techniques used are both fun and informative.  I think the main benefits of coaching are to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  I think coaching is valuable to anyone regardless of where you are in your life or career.


I honestly never thought I’d need a coach. I thought coaching was for CEOs and industry VIPs. I didn’t think it was for the “little guys” (i.e. me). Now, I’m of the belief that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – needs a coach. Coaching has really benefitted me and I’m so grateful to have had that time with Laura. It’s changed my life!


Laura is very patient. She took the time to understand what was causing me to be stuck where I am today and help me build a better vision so I can continue to grow.


I think Laura’s coaching was what I had been waiting for. Laura was so approachable, kind, and open. Her willingness to help and support made a difference for me. I found in her coaching new strategies, ideas, and perspectives that I could incorporate into my goals and objectives that I didn’t see before.


Laura is an incredibly intuitive, positive and caring coach. Her techniques helped me recognize both my strengths and areas I might want to explore as I embark on the next chapter of my career. The exercises she employed were instrumental in providing self perspective and challenging my frames of reference.


Laura is a natural coach. Her probing and compassionate questions helped me learn about myself: my value system, interests, goals and strengths.


Coaching sessions with Laura gave me new perspectives on how to process specific feelings and situations in life.  She showed me how to sit with my emotions, acknowledge them, and then use visualization strategies to move through them.  I now feel more confident and in control of how I choose to walk through life.


From the beginning, Laura put me at ease, creating a safe, open space for me to talk and share freely without fear of judgement. I loved the variety of approaches she used depending on the topic we were working on and it was fun being able to try out things I wouldn’t have considered before! With Laura’s coaching, I substantially grew my confidence in the workplace, overcame fears, dealt with issues I’d been carrying around for many years and, most importantly, learned to value myself and define a path forward into the future.


Laura’s coaching was a breath of fresh air and EXACTLY what I needed at that point of my life. I didn’t realize how impactful coaching was going to be, but by the end of the sessions together, I left feeling refreshed, inspired and genuinely curious about what my future held for me. Because of Laura and her coaching, I believe I became a better person – someone who is more open-minded, someone with a clearer focus, and someone who is willing to explore opportunities and possibilities far more than I ever did before.


I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

In our first few coaching sessions we worked through exercises that allowed me to reflect on my purpose, leadership style and what mattered most to me. I continue to be grounded by the clarity I achieve in my coaching sessions – allowing me to be resilient and confident when challenges came my way.