Treating Friends Like Enemies

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We all naturally want to keep our enemies in the dark.

But why should we expect to improve outcomes by keeping our ғʀɪᴇɴᴅs ᴀɴᴅ sᴜᴘᴘᴏʀᴛᴇʀs in the dark?

Even in dealing with enemies, this impulse isn’t always smart. But what sense can it ever make in our relations with supposed allies?

Sense or nonsense, it happens all the time. I know plenty of folks who, in their penchant for secrecy, treat friends and enemies the same. Holding them at arm’s length. Keeping them out of the loop. On a need-to-know basis. (“Need” being determined by those with the information, not by those from whom it’s withheld.)

This happens in families and marriages. It happens in business. It happens in politics and government. It happens in religion.

It never ends well. Not in the long run, anyway.

But there’s the rub: In the short run, it may seem to “work”. Just often enough, and barely well enough, to keep us from noticing that it’s always a long-term disaster.

When things unravel, it’s then tempting to double down on the secrecy. To suppose that if only we’d held our cards closer, controlled the information flow more tightly, things would be better. (So that’s how we’ll play it in the future.)

Trust me, things won’t be better. They’ll be worse. A lot worse.


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