Integrity is an unusual trait.
Everyone wants it because of how good it makes them sound. But not everyone likes what comes with being so integral.
The consequences of having genuine integrity aren’t always so positive. It’s a humble trait where you can miss out or look like the “bad guy”.
But even so, there’s beauty in integrity that only truly integral people know!
If you’re genuinely integral, you probably live by these 11 rules.
1) You speak kindly behind people’s back
I used to be in this friendship group where, whenever someone left the room, they’d talk about them – and not very kindly.
What made it worse was how kind they’d be to this person’s face and on social media.
Sadly, not everyone in that group was integral. Because if you’re an integral person, you’d never do this.
You’d feel extremely guilty about being nice to someone’s face and slating them as soon as they leave.
In fact, you’d even feel bad if you heard someone else talking badly about them – even if you didn’t get involved at all!
2) You pay money back without being asked
Unless you genuinely forget (which does happen sometimes), you shouldn’t wait for someone to remind you that you owe them money.
If you live with true integrity, you pay the money back that you owe as soon as you’re able to.
You won’t say you’ll send it later when you have no intention of doing that. Nor will you wait for them to ask you for it later (all the while secretly hoping they forget).
A friend of mine used to joke, “I thought I’d gotten away with it” whenever I reminded her of the money she owed weeks after lending it.
We laughed like it was funny, but it did put a strain on things. And sadly, it meant she didn’t really have true integrity.
3) You stay loyal when no one will know
Loyalty means different things depending on the relationship you have with someone.
In a workplace, loyalty means talking positively about the company with its clients. In a relationship, loyalty means staying faithful and not cheating. In a friendship, loyalty means keeping secrets and being kind.
Everyone is faced with a moment where they could easily be disloyal to someone who trusts them and get away with it.
They could cheat on their partner or bend the rules at work. They could break a friend’s trust and get away with it.
In these situations, an unintegral person might take the opportunity. But a person with genuine integrity absolutely wouldn’t – no matter how tempted they are.
4) You admit when you’re wrong (and say sorry)
Another rule genuinely integral people live by is admitting and apologizing when they’re in the wrong.
We’re all wrong sometimes. Sometimes we’re wrong about big things, like saying something mean in an argument.
Other times, the things we’re wrong about are small, like saying a friend did something they didn’t.
But a truly integral person wouldn’t lie their way out of saying sorry. Or avoid the subject so they never have to fess up. They also wouldn’t blame everyone else for their mess up.
Instead, if you’re truly integral, you’ll swallow your pride, admit you were wrong, and say you’re sorry – and really mean it.
5) You keep promises
Say a friend leaves a love letter from their boyfriend at your house. They ask you not to read it. You say you won’t.
They’ll never know if you read it or not. You could quite easily read it without them ever knowing you peeked.
What would you do? Would you read it anyway?
If you’re an integral person, a promise is a promise. It doesn’t matter if the person will never know if you kept your promise or not.
Your integrity is important to you, as is keeping your word. So you wouldn’t abuse their trust in you just because “they’ll never know”.
6) You don’t take advantage of people
Another thing people with true integrity don’t do is take advantage – of anyone.
An old friend of mine had a lot of flexibility when it came to claiming her mileage at work. So she’d add a few extra miles on every week – just because she knew she could get away with it.
It’s safe to say that she wasn’t a very integral person. She was abusing the trust she was given by her boss.
Because a truly integral person would never take advantage of someone, even if they had the opportunity to.
If you’re truly integral, you might take an extra 10 minutes at lunch if you need it and your boss won’t know. Or take a few personal calls during work hours.
But you wouldn’t take full advantage of the trust you’d been given. Nor would you overstep and go too far (by claiming extra miles like my friend did!).
7) You keep secrets, even if you’re not told it’s a secret
A mutual friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend. I found out through said mutual friend. When I asked why they broke up, I’ll always remember what she said:
“She told me in confidence so I’m not sure I should tell you. I wouldn’t like it if she did it to me”.
It was incredibly integral! She could’ve easily gossiped about it with me. She could’ve easily gotten away with it on a “technicality” that her friend didn’t say it was a secret.
But she didn’t. Instead, she used her judgment and maintained her friend’s confidentiality.
If you’re a truly integral person, you probably do the same thing. You keep secrets even when you’re not sure if it was a secret.
And you maintain a level of confidentiality with the things your friends or partner tells you without needing to be told.
8) You don’t cancel unless absolutely necessary
Integral people follow through on what they say they’ll do.
If they schedule a meeting, they won’t cancel it because they can’t be bothered anymore. If they said they’d meet a friend for coffee, they’d go even if other (arguably better) plans came up.
If they said they’d go to dinner with their partner’s parents, they’d go even when they’re feeling low.
Why? Because people with genuine integrity don’t like to let other people down. They think of themselves as reliable and value that trait in themselves.
So they wouldn’t cancel – on anyone or anything – unless it was absolutely necessary.
9) You stay humble about your accomplishments
When you have genuine integrity, you live a very humble life. Humility is just second nature to you.
Sure, you could easily go around gloating about your accomplishments or boasting about your intelligence (all the while making other people feel bad).
But you just wouldn’t do it.
You wouldn’t downplay your successes or pretend that they don’t exist.
If someone brought them up, you’ll talk briefly about them and probably express your gratitude for being able to achieve it.
And then you’ll move swiftly on.
10) You don’t take credit for other people’s work
Let’s look at an example to explain this one.
You’re in a meeting with your boss and the entire team. Your boss looks at you and says very clearly, “Well done on getting X project done, you did a great job”.
That sounds great, but the only problem is, it wasn’t you who led on that project.
Someone else did and that person isn’t in the meeting today.
What do you do? Do you take the credit? Or do you fess up?
If it’s the latter, you have genuine integrity. Because that’s another rule integral people swear by. They don’t take credit for someone else’s hard work.
It wouldn’t feel right to them. It’d also eat them up inside! And they just wouldn’t dream about doing it, even if it meant skipping out on “looking good”.
11) You tell the truth
Another rule integral people live by is being honest and telling the truth.
And I don’t mean being honest at the expense of other people’s feelings. Sometimes, when your friend has a bad haircut, telling them isn’t a nice thing to do.
But otherwise, when you’re genuinely integral, you pride yourself on your honesty.
You’ll tell the truth in most situations, even if it means it’ll get you into trouble or it won’t work out in your favor.
If there’s a benefit to speaking up (like it’ll get someone innocent out of trouble or will build trust with someone even though it won’t make you look good), you’ll do it.
Because that’s just what it means to have true integrity.
It’s not easy being an integral person all the time.
You probably end up with more detentions, less credit, and fewer compliments than you might otherwise get if you were less integral.
But at least you can sleep at night knowing you’re living the most honest life you can. And that you aren’t doing wrong by anyone or anything.
And that’s truly something to be proud of!