One of the most important disciplines of life is discretion

Shh! Closeup portrait of mysterious charming woman with modern hairdo asking for keeping silence hol

There is a plethora of scenarios in which a certain discretion has always been crucial. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I feel blessed to have a job I love, with people I look forward to seeing every day and a beautiful working situation - apologies to all those who don't share this happy situation; I am aware how irritating I must sound - feel free to pull faces at me.

My role affords me a unique glimpse into the lives of strangers; in a small but lovely way I am privy to the momentous moments people encounter as they prepare for the most joyful - and sorrowful - events humans can experience; sharing this brief, rare closeness is a privilege.  

One of the most important disciplines of my position is discretion.

In these days of hyper awareness regarding the sanctity of personal information, and the devastating effect of its exposure, it is vital that anyone who works with sensitive criteria is bound by stringent rules.

Nevertheless, the introduction of the acronym GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) a few years ago struck fear into the hearts of many an administrator who was plunged headlong into a new regime that seemed intimidatingly inflexible, with the procurement and sharing of information suddenly subject to freshly rigorous scrutiny.

Undoubtedly, the rise of ever more sophisticated cyber crime forces us to acknowledge the need to exercise caution when handling personal details, but this was extreme - to the extent that a friend in a parallel role to mine fell out of love with her job and found employment elsewhere. 

Of course, there is a plethora of scenarios in which a certain discretion has always been crucial.

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Alongside other professionals, teachers are well-versed in safeguarding private data, not least because pupils innocently share personal tidbits of their lives with childish trust.

I imagine there are many amusing tales that sail around staff rooms - but never leave those safe havens.

In the medical world, the television programme '24 hours in A&E' demonstrates the emergency attentions of doctors, nurses, clerical and domestic staff and security personnel at the raw end of lives manifesting serious - possibly life-changing, possibly life-ending - medical need, their duties carried out with admirable diplomacy.

And the list goes on.  

The trouble lies with our natural curiosity - 'nosy parker syndrome' might be a fitting label.

The minutiae of other people's lives is fascinating, and when we are granted a peek into a private party, it's a challenge to close the door and remind ourselves that we are not on the guest list.

We may all have wondered at some point about the stories window cleaners could tell - isn't there a jolly song about that?; the same could apply to service engineers, decorators, cleaners, piano tuners...

And what of delivery drivers? And postal staff?

Their insight into home life is similarly intimate: imagine the pyjama-ed teen blearily opening the door and grunting their thanks; the sleep-deprived new parent, hollow-eyed and desperate; the lonely single dweller eager to engage in conversation in what may be their sole human encounter for days.

Our postman, who is the best postman in the country, recently called round with a parcel.

I was frantically embroiled in a frenzied game of 'It' with the youngest - a terrifyingly anarchic endeavour: picture the horror film The Purge - but don't tell me anything about it; the premise petrifies me.

'It' demands wit, fitness and good humour; I frequently fall short.

The frosted-glass front door did little to conceal our screams of arcane fear and exhilaration as we pelted down the hall towards the postman, my son skipping away from my grasp at the last second.

I opened the door, breathless with exertion and hilarity, and Mr Postman smilingly made some reference to our fun fest - a tiny freeze-frame of family life that we didn't mind sharing.

Naturally, had he knocked a few minutes later when all superficial pretence at civility had been abandoned and the game had taken a dark turn, he may well have been party to my son yelling that he wasn't playing any more as he stomped upstairs.

Either way, we rely on the postman's discretion and tolerance. And we make sure we tip him at Christmas, just in case.