People with a strong sense of integrity never compromise on these 9 principles

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A lot of people proclaim they’re a person with integrity.

And yet, time and time again, they prove themselves wrong the moment they touch power and wealth. Or the moment they’re in front of something so tempting.

So how do you know, for sure, if someone truly has a strong sense of integrity?

Well, here are nine principles that people with a strong sense of integrity will never ever compromise on.

1) Everyone deserves dignity

It’s all too easy to say that every human being deserves dignity, only to abandon that ideal the moment we come across a “good enough” justification.

And what’s funny is that sometimes that justification can be as simple as some things and some people just make us uncomfortable—some don’t like seeing men holding hands in public, for example.

People with a strong sense of integrity know better than to fall into that trap. It doesn’t matter who or what kind of person someone is, they deserve respect.

They would be appalled to see a criminal being mistreated. 

They will immediately become wary when they hear someone dehumanize certain people.

As far as they’re concerned, dignity should be given to everyone, and not just to the normal, the moral, and the lovable.

How to assert this principle:

  • Pay close attention to how you talk about groups of people, especially those that are the “other” or aren’t like you.
  • Ask yourself if you’d think of people differently if they’re more like you.
  • If you ever find yourself thinking badly of certain people, ask yourself why.

2) Honesty is golden

People with integrity tend to speak the truth no matter the consequences.

They hold honesty and transparency in high regard.

They’re the ones who can’t help but confess to their partner “I think someone at work is flirting with me.” Even if it can cause some stress in the relationship, they’d rather have it than keep secrets.

They’re an open book, and anyone can ask anything about them so long as it doesn’t violate their own sense of privacy.

They likewise look for the same in others, and find it easy to trust those who are open and honest about themselves.

How to assert this principle:

  • Try to be as straightforward when expressing yourself and avoid complicated euphemisms and confusing turns of phrase.
  • Avoid lies—even white lies.
  • Don’t lie as much as possible even if it seems “good” (i.e. to protect a colleague or friend).

3) Rightness isn’t defined by popularity

There are people who change their positions on various issues depending on what’s currently the popular view, or what stances their favorite people have taken.

But people with a strong sense of integrity would not do that. 

They’d rather argue with their parents and friends for choosing a stance that they believe is wrong, rather than blindly agreeing with them to maintain peace.

And they’d rather abandon their favorite celebrities for choosing a stance that they believe is wrong, rather than change their beliefs.

How to assert this principle:

  • Always ask yourself whether you agree with someone just because you like them or not.
  • If you feel pressured to think or act a certain way, ask yourself why.
  • Try to take the time to question why popular ideas are popular, and if they’re right or not.

4) There’s no such thing as “minor offense”

Some people claim they have integrity, and yet…

They cheat just a bit.

They steal just a bit.

They lie just a bit.

They think a crime isn’t a crime as long as it’s just a “mini crime”—something that’s done just a bit or done once.

People with a strong sense of integrity know that once a line is crossed, even by just 1mm, it’s crossed. Period.

They’re not going to nab a couple of dollars, or accept a bribe as long as it’s not a huge amount.

If they’re married, they’re not going to flirt with someone for just one night. 

For someone with integrity, an offense is an offense no matter how small it may seem.

How to assert this principle:

  • Walk away from anything that encourages you to “just be a bit bad”.
  • Don’t give excuses for yourself or others. When they’ve committed something, let them be accountable for it no matter how small.

5) Be as fair as possible

Everyone is biased one way or another. This is a fact that people with integrity are very much aware of.

So they try to make sure they understand their personal biases and keep them in check. This way, they can be as fair as they can be towards everyone else.

They could hardly claim to have integrity if they treat some people better than others thanks to their biases, after all.

So whenever they have to make decisions, they pause and reflect “Am I being fair here?”, and only proceed when their answer is a resounding yes.

How to assert this principle:

  • Spend some time trying to understand your biases and prejudices.
  • Be especially vigilant whenever you’re faced with a person or situation you know you’re biased against.
  • Ask for others’ opinions—they’ll also have their own biases, but hopefully they’ll be different enough from yours.

6) Always be mindful of others

People with a strong sense of integrity are guided by their awareness that they’re not the only person in the world.

They know that if they throw a bag of trash in the river, it will affect the river, those who are swimming in it, and Mother Nature as a whole.

So before they do anything, they take into account how others might be affected.

Sure, it might be advantageous for them to cut in line, but they know that by doing that, they’re putting others behind. Besides, what kind of world would it be if everyone cut in line?

If they don’t want everyone to do it, they won’t do it. Because chances are, those actions would affect others in a bad way.

How to assert this principle:

  • Before you do anything, ask yourself how it would affect others and how it would make them feel.
  • Imagine yourself being in someone else’s shoes.
  • Imagine what an ideal world would look like…then try to be someone who can help achieve that.

7) Money isn’t everything

Money is important in this world we live in, so much so that it’s often very tempting to make small sacrifices for the sake of getting a few more dollars in the bank.

But someone with a good sense of integrity understands that money isn’t everything, and will stand firm with that belief.

They’re not going to sacrifice their friendships, or sell out their convictions just for the sake of extra cash… or even plain financial stability, for that matter.

Personal and moral integrity to them are treasures worth more than all the gold in the world.

How to assert this principle:

  • Focus on substance and experience, rather than monetary value.
  • Think hard about how money is truly necessary, and where necessity gives way to luxury.
  • Downplay money in your social life, rather than making it a central part of your identity.

8) White lies are still lies

White lies are incredibly tempting, even for the most honest among us.

It’s not like we’re making up things out of thin air, after all. We can simply omit a few “unimportant” details here and there, and people will come to their own conclusions.

But people with a strong sense of integrity will nonetheless stay away from white lies!

As far as they’re concerned, it doesn’t matter if they’re simply omitting some details or emphasizing the wrong ones—white lies are still lies.

How to assert this principle:

  • Try to understand the things that trigger your need to lie.
  • Every time you feel tempted to lie or omit the truth, ask yourself what you have to lose.
  • Remind yourself that all lies will eventually get exposed.
  • If you ever catch yourself making lies, come clean and apologize as soon as you can.

9) Do the right thing even if no one is watching

People with a strong sense of integrity will do the right thing—always.

They don’t care that there’s nobody around to condemn them for breaking their values or praise them for holding fast to them.

They don’t need other people to keep them on the right track.

Their own sense of integrity means they simply don’t want to violate their own values whether or not someone’s watching.

How to assert this principle:

  • Try to ask yourself what things you’d be fine doing, so long as there’s nobody to witness it.
  • Whenever you feel tempted to do something in private, ask yourself why you can’t do it with others around.
  • When the temptation is strong, tell yourself that your secret dealings can and will become public eventually.

Last words

People are not necessarily born with integrity. Integrity is something that people are taught—whether by their parents, peers, or mere circumstance.

People with a strong sense of integrity do not rely on just one key value or principle to keep them grounded. Instead, they have several anchors keeping them in check.

It’s something that you can also cultivate in yourself, if you realize that your integrity isn’t at all up there. 

Let me warn you that it’s not going to be easy at first…but by constantly asserting these principles in your life, you’ll eventually find them as habitual as breathing.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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