Living Life with Integrity

Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

The adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. (

I recently had an experience that caused me to, once again, realize the moral and ethical current condition of our society in which laws must be legislated to determine acceptable behavior.

I was selling one of my cars and a gentleman indicated he wanted to buy the car. We agreed on the price of $13,000. We set a time for the following day for him to make the payment. As it turned out, he was unable to to withdraw the money from his banking account because bank was closed for three days due to the New Year holiday. He called me immediately and told me of the problem and that he wanted to still stop by the house and make a deposit on the purchase so I would hold the car for him and not sell it to someone else who immediately had all the cash to pay for it in full.

I told him that we could wait until the following week to complete the transaction and that he did not need to make make a deposit and that I would not sell the car from under him as he was aware of one other person who wanted to buy the car. This totally confused him because, according to national law in my South American country, there is no sales contract without a deposit. I assured him that I knew he wanted the car and I would not sell the car from under him. He finally realized that I was serious and we agreed on day the following week to complete the transaction.

As I was raised as a child and as practiced in my business for 32 years, my word and handshake was our agreement/contract. If my word isn’t good, my signature isn’t worth anything either … regardless of the law. Rather than being a matter of law, it is a matter of ethics and morals. This is what led me to post this article below on integrity.

How to show integrity

Integrity comes in many different forms, and there are lots of ways to show it both in everyday life and at work. Doing things like being accountable for your mistakes, accepting helpful criticism, and following through on your commitments will help you show integrity in everything you do. To show integrity with others, though, you will also have to develop personal integrity, which means treating yourself with respect and establishing considerate habits that you’ll be able to show to others.

Showing integrity to others

Acknowledge mistakes you made by apologizing and fixing them

If you do or say something that isn’t right, own up to your mistake and acknowledge that you were wrong. This includes apologizing when it’s necessary and making the effort to fix the problem that you may have created or contributed to.

  • For example, if you accuse someone of something they didn’t do, apologize to make it right.
  • If you forgot to pick up something from the store or didn’t remember an important date, avoid making excuses and accept that you made a mistake.

Respect other people’s opinions even if you don’t agree

 It’s likely that you’ll run into people whose beliefs, values, or thoughts don’t line up exactly with yours. Instead of convincing yourself that they’re wrong, try to listen to their point of view. Even if you still don’t agree, respect their right to a different opinion and be considerate when you’re talking about it with them.

  • This could be something as insignificant as which restaurant to go to for dinner, to bigger opinions like who to vote for in elections.

Give credit to others when they’ve done a good job

Congratulate the people around you when they’ve accomplished something so that others are aware of a job well done. This shows that you appreciate the work of others and are a good teammate.

  • Avoid bragging about your own accomplishments, as this doesn’t show integrity.

Treat your employees or coworkers with respect

Whether you’re talking to your boss or a low-level employee, treat everyone equally and with kindness. Do this by listening to others when they’re speaking without interrupting them, and responding in a polite way to their ideas, opinions, or directions. Being respectful of those around you will encourage others to be respectful to you, too.

  • Other examples of being respectful include saying thank you when a coworker helps you out or being considerate of other people’s time.

Follow company policies to lead by example

This shows that you respect your company and believe in its rules and guidelines. By following the proper protocol and not cutting corners, you’ll show a strong sense of integrity and honesty.

  • For example, avoid texting or talking on the phone during work hours if you’re not supposed to.

Communicate with others openly and honestly to inspire them to do the same

If you’re a leader, tell your employees that you want to create an environment where people can talk freely and honestly, and show this by communicating with them efficiently. If you’re not in charge of others, you can still encourage open communication by talking with others frequently and updating them on the things you’re doing.

  • If you’re impressed with something your employees did, worried about a deadline, or have questions about a project, talk with others to share your concerns or praise.

Developing Personal Integrity

Help others without expecting something in return

This shows kindness as well as integrity. Lend a helping hand to make someone’s life easier, not because you think they’ll owe you a favor in the future. This kind of selfless giving will put a smile on your face as well as others.

  • Reach out to people that might need help to offer your support, whether it’s by cooking them a meal, mowing their lawn, or doing them some other favor.

Accept and listen to helpful criticism

It can be hard to accept criticism about ourselves, but being open to others’ advice will only help you become a better person. Take what other people have to say seriously, using it as encouragement to do some self-reflecting.

  • For example, instead of being angry if someone tells you your listening skills could be improved, think about whether you truly have been a good listener lately and come up with ways to be a better one.

Follow through on your commitments to show that you’re reliable

Whether you set a date to do something or make a promise to someone, stick to your commitment. This shows that people can depend on you and you take your obligations seriously.

  • If you set a date to meet up with a friend, get there on time so you don’t keep them waiting.
  • If something serious comes up and you can’t follow through on a commitment, be honest about what’s happened and communicate with the other person or people to make it up to them later.

Be transparent about things that are happening at work and at home

Be honest about events going on in your life or thoughts you’re having. Tell your family members, friends, or coworkers exactly what’s going on so everyone is on the same page.

  • For example, if you’re worried about having enough money for something or having enough time to get a project done, be honest about your concerns and share them with the people involved.

Use your time productively

If you happen to have downtime while you’re at work, try to think of ways to use this time to accomplish things, like responding to emails or helping out a coworker. When you have free time at home, instead of lounging on the couch watching television or wasting time on social media, try organizing the house, reading a book, or spending time on a hobby.

  • Show up to work and try to work productively all the way up until your break or lunchtime, using your downtime to distress and refocus.

Source: wikiHow under a Creative Commons License

Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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