Written by Lori Thiessen

What is appropriate conversation for a coffee shop? Gregg Taylor, the co-author of this project and I were sitting in a coffee shop working on some tasks related to the project. A couple of tables down from us were three people discussing finances. One person was clearly the other two people’s new bookkeeper/accountant. The new accountant was asking some very confidential questions, in my view, in a very public place.

So here’s another java commuter challenge: depending on the issues being discussed at the meeting, would you opt to rent a meeting room or have the meeting in your home office or find another venue? Now I won’t be doing anything about the information I accidently overheard, but I can’t say the same for other people in the same situation.

I suppose the other way to look at this is to say who cares? Would you actually care if complete strangers overheard what you and your friend or colleague were discussing?

The privacy issue is handled in a totally paradoxical way these days. On the one hand, people in general are anxious about their personal information being available to all and sundry. On the other hand, some people have no qualms about putting up their most intimate thoughts for all the world to see on facebook or other social media venues, and discussing every aspect of their lives, both work and personal in the most public spaces. It’s almost as if we will ourselves to believe that even if we are in a public space no one can hear us, or at least no one scurrilous can hear us.

Am I being too paranoid? Am I giving into the current fear culture? I don’t really know. I have had conversations with people in public that I think afterward that I really shouldn’t have said certain things for just anybody to hear. You never know who’s listening and how the information will circulate. Think of the game Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon.

Q: What are your thoughts on privacy and conducting business out of a coffee shop?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

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