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Integrity In The Moment of Choice

470909685Most of us see ourselves as truthful people. And most people are truthful in ordinary moments when there is no pressure or reason to be less than truthful.

But the key to honesty is integrity in the moment of choice. As the late Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) said:

“A moment of choice is a moment of truth. It’s the testing point of our character and competence.”

The testing point of our character—that’s the key phrase. I admit that I have flunked this test at various times in my life. I submit that virtually everyone is guilty.

In business, the real truth is sometimes masked in obfuscation of the facts. Telling incomplete or half-truths make you every bit as guilty as the big whopper of a lie. We convince ourselves that we selectively told the truth but in reality, we misled the other party by not offering the whole story. I joined two ad agencies in the 90s as the top person. For the first couple of months I wanted to understand the nature of our relationships with clients and how we were structured and why. I felt I was being fed a constant diet of half-truths and personal agenda. I often felt like screaming, “Will anyone please just tell me straight what’s going on?” You can imagine how frustrated I was. But I tried to understand the precarious nature of their feelings and why they wanted to “position their reality”. And as I admit, I am guilty of not being forthright on many occasions as well.

Therefore, the underlying question is…. why do people lie? This was explored in a 2017 article in Psychology Today, 6 Reasons People Lie When They Don’t Need To. Here were the reasons the article sited:

1. The lie does matter … to them.

2. Telling the truth feels like giving up control.

3. They don’t want to disappoint you

4. Lies snowball.

5. It’s not a lie to them

6. They want it to be true

#5 is the bell ringer to me. We often alter the script in our our heads and create “alternate facts” which support our version of reality.

However the truth is that when we lie, we demean ourselves. When the lie is discovered (and it almost always is) it is a major withdrawal in the relationships we have with co-workers, friends, family. Trust is earned over time. Lying erodes trust quickly and, in some cases, permanently.

I question every person who proclaims, “Believe me” or “Trust Me” when trying to explain their thoughts. A person of true integrity does not need to “convince” others. Their words and truth are always aligned.

The question for us all is—-How truthful are you…really?




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