Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Piano-Playing Next-Door Neighbor Complains of Noise

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am working on a project for which I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. I did so, and I don’t have any reason to talk about what this company is up to. Or at least that’s what I thought. But I’m noticing that as I talk to my friends about the work I am doing, I sometimes share bits here and there about this project. My friends are just regular people and not in the media or anything, but still, I’m wondering if I should be saying anything to anyone. It’s hard to work on something and not be forthcoming about the project. My friends are accustomed to me telling stories. How can I manage my friends and this NDA at the same time? -- Shhhh

DEAR SHHHH: When you sign an NDA, you need to take it seriously. It is a binding legal document that states specifically how you are to protect the intellectual property to which you become privy by virtue of working with the company. That likely includes details about the project and the people with whom you are working.

How you handle this with your friends is by telling them that you have signed an agreement that forbids you from talking about what you are doing. Apologize for not being able to share juicy tidbits the way that they have grown accustomed to in the past. But stand your ground. Change the subject. You never know what might happen if one of your stories gets relayed to the wrong person.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)