Sins of Omission

About a month ago I got an email from my brokerage firm thanking me for my recent trade. Puzzled, because I hadn’t made a trade, and a little concerned that someone was messing with my account, I called. A pleasant and helpful person on the phone reviewed my account and reported that nothing was amiss. Assured, I dismissed the matter.

Less than a week later a stock I own hit the price at which I had placed an order to sell some time ago. But no sale occurred. Upon investigation, I learned that the ‘thank you’ for my trade was the brokerage’s way of notifying me that my trade order had expired. The order I had placed was marked as ‘good until cancelled.’ Turns out, they meant cancelled by them.

How much more helpful would the brokerage have been to me if it had told me what I needed to know? If only it had directly told me it would cancel the order at a set date, and then told me that it had done so?

Intentionally withholding information that alters the life of another is passive lying.

Sadly, our lives are filled with passive lies. The lover in a monogamous relationship who fails to reveal contracting an STD is guilty of two sins of omission – the encounter that resulted in the STD, and the presence of the disease. The alcoholic who rightfully denies drinking the beer, but fails to mention the empty wine bottle hastily stuffed behind the couch. The medical care provider who does not reveal that a less expensive yet equally effective alternative treatment exists to the one proposed.

Such sins of omission are a sure fire way to damage trust between parties. Now I see that my partner in investing for my future, the one that boldly promises customers exceptional service, does not value our relationship, does not have my best interests at heart, and routinely takes actions to deceive me. The trust has been broken. The relationship is frayed and at serious risk.

Had the brokerage sent me an email that my order would expire soon, I could have taken the action I desired. I would have valued the firm as one committed to my best interests. Trust would have been preserved, and the relationship strengthened by our interaction.

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0 Responses to Sins of Omission

  1. Sally Gosselin

    Thank you for your column.

    What can I say when a family member (who works for a bank) told family members and a friend about me getting a loan to do my home repairs. She broke bank policy, my confidentiality and trust. I got extremely angry with her at her bank.

    I bought a card to apologize for my conduct (but I want her to know how out of line and totally wrong she was to begin with). If I’m apologizing, should I not mention her part since she is known for being controlling with others. The family always says “Oh, that’s Lynn”. Well, I have never felt that way and I’m very tired to putting up with her controlling, rude attitude. She just apparently thinks she can say and do anything with no consequences. I have put up with this for 40 years (she is a sister-in-law married to my late husbands brother). I have never said anything back or stood up for myself with her.

    I just thought you needed to know the whole situation.

    With Sincere Thanks,

    Sally Gosselin
    segosselin@cox.net

    • Sally, I am so sorry that your sister-in-law violated your privacy this way. She was wrong to do this and you have the right to ask her for an apology for what she did. And yes, you will feel better for apologizing for reacting the way you did. One question I have for you is why it matters to you that she told your shared family? You have your reasons and you are responsible for yourself, including your choices and your debt.

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