We, as a group, spend quite a bit of your time in public places, in airplanes and airports, in buses and cabs, in hotel lobbies, in restaurants and sometimes in bars. That is just one of the side effects of the career you have chosen. After a while, you become desensitized to the fact that you spend so much time in these public places. You lose privacy but you don’t seem to notice!
We readily notice when some total stranger or group of strangers has a private conversation in a public place. Everyone around them can hear. For some reason, you may not recognize it when you do that! Loud conversations in public places are rude but they can also violate the trust that your clients place in us. You do sensitive work and know sensitive details about the operations of your clients. You know the details of their business practices, the good and the bad details. You know financial details as well. You know when they may be wasting money. You have the experience, training and access to know some of their business details even better than most of their employees know them.
As professionals, you have an obligation to protect and to safeguard the business details of your clients. For that reason, you need to always be conscious of your surroundings when you are in face-to-face conversations and when you are on cell phone calls.
We should try to avoid having private conversations in public places but the demands of your work dictate that you conduct business on cell phones and in public places sometimes. A few, simple guidelines might be appropriate. For example, it would be a good idea to avoid mentioning the client’s name in these conversations. You should recognize that people near the client location might know you and they may be aware of the work that you do. You meet so many people that you may not remember the people at the next table in a restaurant even though they recognize us. You are not a rock star but people will recognize you! You are the expert who is there to resolve serious problems or to do other complex work. Be conscious of your surroundings and move to more isolated places when you need to have private conversations in public places.
If someone overhears a conversation that seem to reveal private information about the client, regardless of whether that information is good or bad, you have violated your professional responsibilities.