Yesterday, I received some news. My mother was quite affected when she heard it, so she shared it by mistake with a few of her friends at the spur of the moment. However, it's supposed to be top secret as it's a touchy subject, and my mom herself forbade me to share it with anyone, after discussing with her friends that they would all keep quiet about it. (Not that she needed to forbid it, it was my secret in the first place...)

However, she (my mom) is a chatterbox, so she kinda said it to our lawn-keeper (whom she talks to all day when I'm at school.) It went like this:

Mom: Don't tell anyone, but [insert secret talk here].

Lawn-keeper: No ma'am, absolutely not! Your secret is safe with me. (Smiles sinisterly...)

(That is an exaggeration, but it went along similar lines)

The lawn-keeper is pretty trustable, but I don't know if he's a chatterbox too.

My question is: How to prevent a secret from spreading via this "don't tell anyone, but... " phenomenon?

(Please don't ask further about the secret, I can't reveal anything else about it unless absolutely necessary for answering the question.)

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    Why the downvote? Is this question not a good one? Please let me know, I'll edit it and make it better! Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 3:43
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    Welcome to Interpersonal Skills! Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes.
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    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 7:33

2 Answers 2


The answer is:

You can't.

Expect secrets to travel fast - trust no one, not even your mom, if she doesn't need to know it. You need to keep your secrets on a need-to-know basis only.

Asking people to not tell isn't gonna help, but you can try, although you risk drawing more attention to the secret itself.

Just move on and don't address it when it circles back to you. Just give no comments on it.


Depending on what the secret is, you could possibly obfuscate or minimize it by sending another message down the same channel. That may potentially change what's being passed around and possibly make it less damaging to you or whatever the secret's about. It may require you to lie also, which is not ideal. And you'd have to lie to your mom, which makes it even more challenging. There's no guaranteed results of course, but I think that's the only way you could have an effect on what's already happened.

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