It used to always feel wonderful when someone would ask me to meet at a coffee shop for a business meeting. More recently, I am finding that it is better to stay in an office setting depending on the type of conversation that you are going to have. Watching the steam rise from your cup of black coffee with a double shot of expresso, while waiting for your coffee mate to arrive can sometimes turn you into a chatterbox.
Intentional or unintentional eavesdropping is not that difficult. Most coffee shops are so small that one does not have to be loud for someone to hear every word you are saying. It has becoming increasingly more evident that we are in our own worlds most of the time. We are wrapped up in our phones, headphones or other devices. Some one may be sitting quietly at a corner table but your voice carries and it is inevitable that in a small coffee shop sans the roar of the blender there will be quiet time. There are not too many coffee shops with high backed privacy booths. Maybe they take up too much space. Along with those who just want to enjoy a quiet moment with a book, do some solo studying or just catch a breath before heading off to work, there are those who have planned meetings slated.
Putting Up Walls
Always remember that you may not be aware that someone has eavesdropped on your conversation and is ready to share “your information” with the next person. Sometimes it is just a matter of curiosity. Other times, you are just being too loud.
In my case, I was just having a benign conversation with a sponsor about the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Dinner. Sometimes you get so interested in the conversation that you miss out on what is going on around you. When you are speaking quietly people will be more than likely to want to know what you are saying than if you are loud and boisterous.
We were at the coffee shop for about an hour. We said our goodbyes and recall seeing no one that I knew.
A few weeks later, I was grocery shopping and a person came up to me and said hello and asked if I had remembered them from the coffee shop.
The look on my face must have been priceless because they described the person I was with.
At this point, I started looking around because I was feeling very uncomfortable. I was also trying to recall my conversation. The person then began to recall it for me.
I strangely felt as though I really was not paying attention to my surroundings. This person did not seem harmful but I thought about all of the other conversations that could have been really included sensitive information. I wondered how many times I had conversations in small spaces and the person next to me with headphones on reading a book was actually eavesdropping.
I know that I can be dramatic but it is a precautionary tale. People can find out information about you with surprising ease. Be mindful of what you are talking about in public spaces. It might come back to bite you.
You can take another approach and make up wild stories about being a child of two gypsy circus performers and see how long it takes to get back to you as well. Of course I am not serious but it would be a delightful exercise if not hilarious.
April 1 - April 14, 2018