What we do on a daily basis matters more than what we do just on occasion. Consistent hard work helps us be successful, consistent exercise will keep us fit, and consistent honesty and integrity will gain the trust and respect of others. Consistency really is key, and it’s certainly true when it comes to having integrity. We all can – and do – act honourably, yet somehow it seems we are judged on those times when we didn’t, instead of all the times when we do. Just like first impressions, we may be evaluated by only a brief encounter or even word-of-mouth, instead of by our continuous efforts. The good news is that we aren’t defined by our past or a moment of poor judgement on our part; we’re defined by our day-to-day actions and attitudes.
Keepin’ it constant
In order to have strong relationships, we need to trust others and we need them to trust us back. The only way to achieve this is by acting with integrity in all that we do, not just when others are watching.
In the workplace, true success and achievement can be found when we uphold high standards, morals and ethics, but sometimes we may not know what exactly that encompasses or how we are perceived by others. Here is a list of small ways that make a big impact at work when it comes to gaining the respect and trust of others:
- Say what you’ll do and do what you say, both in and outside of work.
- Maintain your good character and be authentic.
- Communication is key – be honest and communicate freely – even if it means you admit that you don’t understand something or forgot how to do it.
- Be a trusted team player – dig in, help out, be positive, and commit to your team.
- Be industrious and flex that strong work ethic – don’t slack off, and if you complete a task early, see what else needs to be done.
- Stick to the rules– if you don’t like a certain policy, bring it up with your boss or at a meeting and offer ways it might improve and why. If you still don’t like the rules, it may be time for a career change.
- Behave professionally – sure you can be silly and fun but be ethical and act with integrity.
- Trust in others and tell them you trust them – hearing those words inspires people to step up.
- Meet deadlines.
- Use excuses sparingly – i.e., if you have a bad cold, kids kept you up all night, or your computer is acting up.
- Own up to mistakes – we all make errors at work but we can only learn from them if we talk about them.
- Zip it – don’t gossip, brag or bad-mouth anyone. Like my mother always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
- Particularly if you’re a leader or higher-up, don’t show bias or favouritism and never use your position for personal gain; always lead by example.
How to make a ‘trust comeback’
For anyone who’s lost someone’s trust because of their words or actions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that the relationship will forever be broken – depending, of course, on the severity. With a bit of hard work, honest communication, caring commitment and a solid apology, you can work towards rebuilding that relationship. Your future words and actions, however, will be closely scrutinized until the trust has been rebuilt. If you want to make that comeback, you have to consistently act with integrity, a bit of humility, and own up to the mistake.
Finally, in all things we do at work or in the community, when in doubt, simply act as if someone else were watching. It’s impossible to trust someone who sneaks around, tells lie after lie, or who never acts on what they say they’ll do.
In a perfect world, wouldn’t it be nice if we never heard anyone say, “To be honest with you…”? Let’s agree to always be honest with each other, all the time. We’ve got amazing relationships, opportunities and adventures ahead of us, and the best way to get there is to act with integrity and trust in one another.
“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.” – Michelle Obama