You may have wondered about how great people build and maintain a reputation of integrity and earn the respect of the people around them. You can spot someone who is respected and trusted by his friends and family right away. People look up to him, go to him for advise, and take his word seriously. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to build this kind of reputation for yourself as well?
Honesty is Key
There is really no simpler answer to the question of how to build a reputation of integrity than honesty. Honesty builds trust. Being true to your word, keeping your promises, and making sure that you do whatever it is you say will do are all that it takes for people to see you as a reliable, dependable, and trustworthy person. This applies to all aspects of human relationships. Honesty is the foundation of any romantic relationship, as well as in business. Politicians are often stereotyped as being far from honest, which is why we are immediately attracted to those who seem squeaky clean and those who consistently live up to their campaign promises. Children are taught to be honest from the moment they learn to socialize. Most people, whether they admit it or not, put a premium on honesty, since honesty builds credibility, and credibility, in turn, affects how effectively we can influence others.
Building Trust with Honesty
Be honest about the small things.
You may not realize it, but a lot of people are observing you as you go through your day. They may not be there looking over your shoulder 24 hours a day, but they are often around as you do the major tasks of your day, such as office work, school work, and even grocery shopping. You may also be surprised to know that people around you tend to notice even the smallest things that occur in their environments. A co-worker may notice that you failed to return a pencil that you borrowed from her, and then you failed to return her calculator the week after that. A classmate may notice that you are constantly late for school-related group meetings. These are small things that add up to your reputation. Not being honest about what you are going to do or not do gives people the impression that you are not someone they can rely on. Being dishonest about the small things can also lead others to think that if you can be dishonest about a small thing, then there’s always that chance that you may bend the truth when it comes to more important issues as well.
Confess your mistakes right away and offer solutions.
We often commit mistakes in the workplace. This could be about something as trivial as forgetting to meet a deadline or crashing the office database. I have often been tempted so many times to downplay a mistake and try to sweep it under the rug, especially if the mistake is something that I think is small or trivial. However, I realized that I will make these mistakes, small or large, as I continue on with my interactions with others, in the office or out of it. Continuously downplaying my mistakes or not acknowledging my faults time and time again will not do any good for my reputation. A better way would be acknowledging the mistake, no matter how small it is, giving a sincere apology, and offering solutions. The last step would be to make sure that the mistake never happens again. Most people will appreciate this kind of honesty, because it shows that you are not the type of person who commits an error and then runs. This shows that you can shoulder the consequences of your actions and you are willing to work on your mistakes.
Do what you say.
I struggled with this aspect of honesty for a long, long time. There are times when I have all the intention in the world to do something at a particular times. However, other things, such as schedules, laziness, fear, etc. get in the way and I end up not doing that thing which I promised myself or another person that I would do. All the intention in the world will not mean anything if there is no follow-through, and this is something that people notice if you do it often enough. Having a reputation like this is not good for anyone, especially if you own a business or offer a service and customers expect things and services from you on time. Lack of dependability can shatter any business in a day, and can ruin relationships that you have taken years to build.
This is simple enough, but it can be so hard to do, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you think you can easily get away with it. You may get away with lying once or twice, but once you get caught, this changes the other person’s perception of you. Lying to yourself is a reflection of how you respect others and yourself. And you only need to be caught lying once in order to be tagged with a reputation as someone who bends the truth. So don’t lie. No matter how trivial it is, no matter how it easy getting away with lying seems to be, avoid it all costs. The lie may be small, but the consequences are far-reaching.
Honesty is the key to a reputation of integrity. Practice a life of honesty by meaning what you say, fulfilling your commitments, and sticking to the truth at all times. You may feel like lying is the easy way out when it comes to certain situations, but the consequences could be disastrous if you are found out. People are watching you, whether you notice it or not. So practice honesty in all aspects of your life, from your family life to your work life, and you will slowly build a reputation as a person of integrity and character, someone worthy of another person’s trust.