Integrity is all about staying true to yourself.
Someone with integrity is honest, decent, and has a powerful sense of moral code by which they live their life. And this deeply impacts their relationships with others too.
Here are some things they’ll never do in social situations…
1) Engage in gossip or bad-mouthing people
Let’s face it, most of us have indulged in gossip at some point or another.
It’s one of those social habits that happen all too often. But, if we’re honest, we know that it’s a mean thing to do.
Sometimes we do it to vent our frustrations when really we should be speaking directly to the person concerned.
Other times, it happens because our ego secretly gets a little kick out of making someone else wrong or inferior to us.
Those with the highest integrity have the strength to avoid this trap.
They realize it’s unfair and unkind, and reflects more on you than it does the person you are bad-mouthing.
2) Go along with the crowd
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with doing so when it aligns with you. But we’re talking about allowing people to put pressure on you.
Following along because it feels too uncomfortable to find your own voice and say “no” is a form of self-betrayal.
That might be opinions and thoughts (as we’ll see next) or it could be activities and actions that you don’t believe are right.
When I was a youngster I’d say to my mom, “Yeah, but all my friends are doing it”, and she would reply “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?”
I think this sums up nicely the importance of thinking for yourself. And that’s exactly what people with integrity do.
3) Pretend to agree, when they really don’t
People-pleasing tendencies can so easily creep into our social interactions with others.
We all want to be liked, and we all want to feel like we belong. But “belonging” only counts when it’s authentic.
It takes plenty of vulnerability to disagree with others.
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean starting arguments.
You can say in a perfectly pleasant way that you don’t feel the same as someone else, or that you don’t see things eye to eye.
In fact, it’s often in these differences of opinions that we have more opportunities to learn and grow.
4) Boast and brag
An important aspect of integrity is sincerity.
Whenever we feel the need to brag or boast, we’re simply trying to inflate ourselves in the eyes of others.
Whilst it so often springs from insecurity rather than arrogance, the fact remains:
It’s a false portrayal.
It’s essentially hiding behind a mask.
People with integrity have to have a strong sense of self — that includes self-respect and self-esteem.
They lean back on this to avoid falling foul of behaviors that others turn to so they can feel better about themselves.
5) Hog the limelight
People with integrity have good judgment and are usually very grounded.
That down-to-earth quality means they don’t make it all about them.
They are happy to give others a platform to speak. They certainly don’t feel the need to have all eyes on them.
Attention seeking, much like bragging and boasting, is just another sign of a lack of confidence.
When you have integrity, you realize it’s important to show others your respect. A really good way to do that is to practice active listening.
Rather than make the conversation all about them, people with integrity take the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about others.
6) Overshare too much too soon
As we’ve already seen, dignity is a quality that goes hand in hand with integrity.
In order to stay true to yourself, you have to believe in yourself. You have to feel worthy.
When you gain the majority of your validation from within, rather than other people, it significantly impacts your behavior (for the better!).
When we no longer feel the need to seek approval at all costs, we don’t end up doing things like oversharing.
Of course, opening up and being honest about how you feel is important to integrity.
But it becomes quite another thing if we spill our guts to the wrong people in an inappropriate setting.
7) Tell lies
By now, it’s probably pretty obvious that people with integrity avoid falsehoods and lies.
Honesty is one of their key values.
That shouldn’t be confused with a lack of tact.
Volunteering rude or unnecessary information under the guise of ‘keeping it real’ is usually uncalled for.
So that’s not to say that people with integrity always offer up their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it’s wiser to say nothing at all.
But they won’t betray themselves first and foremost by weaving a web of lies.
It’s important to them that the version of themselves they show is the real deal. As we’ll see next.
8) Pretend to be something they are not
Oscar Wilde famously said:
“Be yourself everyone else is taken”.
It sounds obvious, especially when you put it like that. But let’s face it, it can be far easier said than done.
In fact, daring to be yourself becomes a true act of courage.
The reason is that we’re often so afraid of rejection. We worry about how others perceive us. We are apprehensive at the thought of being judged.
We want so desperately to be seen in a favorable light that sometimes we try that little bit too hard.
Yet it only tends to backfire, sadly.
Because we’re not opening up and so we may lack authenticity. The problem is that people are experts in reading this. So it just comes across as fake.
The funny thing about vulnerability is that we value it in others, but fear doing it ourselves.
When we pretend to be something we are not, we rob others (and ourselves) of the chance to connect on a deeper level.
9) Talk down to others
Integrity doesn’t just demand self-respect. That respect is also extended to others.
You might mistakenly believe that such a strong sense of moral code may make someone a bit holier than thou.
But that respectful attitude is offered to the people they meet too. So they don’t act uppity or superior.
You won’t find them using their opinions and thoughts as an excuse to lecture others.
10) Push people’s boundaries
Ultimately, the best way we show respect to other people is by acknowledging and upholding their own personal boundaries.
That can be in all sorts of ways.
A basic one might be our personal space. We all have an invisible bubble around us. And we have to feel comfortable with someone before we let them enter it.
Another one in social situations is allowing those around you to express themselves how they see fit.
That means, listening to and accepting without question when someone says “no”.
It also means acknowledging that everyone has the right to make their own decisions, and their own mind up.
This is why you’ll never find a person with integrity doing the next thing on our list either.
11) Act judgemental or like a know-it-all
It’s a tricky one, especially when you have for yourself certain clear moral codes and ideals.
But here’s the thing:
The world does not need a lecture.
The worst way to “educate” anybody is by shouting them down, obnoxiously pointing out exactly why they’re wrong, and giving them a dressing down.
That’s just a recipe for getting someone’s back up and making them defensive.
Plus, it’s got nothing to do with “standing up for the truth” and everything to do with ego.
People with integrity are never judgemental in their approach.
But, neither does this mean that people with integrity keep their mouths closed in the face of injustice. It’s more about going about it in the right way.
12) Avoid conflict at all cost
In social situations, we all would prefer to keep things light. We want to get along and have a good time.
That’s no different for someone with integrity. They’re not the morality police after all.
But while getting along is preferable, there are some things that are simply not worth sacrificing for the sake of an easy life.
If somebody oversteps the mark or behaves in a disrespectful way, a person with integrity will reach a point where they need to highlight this.
Of course, as we’ve just said, there’s a way of going about it. But they won’t just turn a blind eye.
For example, if someone starts to make racist or sexist comments.
They don’t think “oh, well it’s not my problem” or “what can I do about it”.
They stand up for what they believe is right. Even if that means having to rock the boat.
We can all add a little more integrity to our lives
Nobody is perfect, but aiming for integrity is a good way of ensuring we stay true to who we are.
Not only that, it’s also the best way of extending the same fairness and decency we expect for ourselves to others.
That’s why striving to be a person you can admire is a gift to yourself and everyone around you in equal measure.