10 ways to tell if someone has strong moral integrity

There’s no doubt that integrity is something that people value… but how do you actually tell that someone has integrity?

Well, it’s not always the easiest thing in the world. Unfortunately, a lot of people try faking it, and if you don’t know what to look out for you can easily find yourself fooled.

So to help you figure things out, here are 10 characteristics you can expect from a person with strong moral integrity.

1) They don’t lie

One’s moral integrity can be tested in how strongly they stand by their values, and how hard things have to be before they consider compromising their values.

And someone with strong moral integrity is not someone who will lie for the sake of it. Unless there’s something horribly wrong, they will never lie—if anything, the thought of doing so makes them sick in the stomach.

If they simply don’t have the time to go shopping with you, then they’ll tell you so instead of saying something like “oh, I’m not feeling well.”

They don’t care that it’s a small thing, relatively speaking—It’s not like they’re lying about where the nuclear launch codes are after all—because as far as they are concerned, lying is just… wrong.

2) They don’t take advantage of others

A lot of people take advantage of others—especially those not as fortunate as them—because it’s… well, advantageous.

Think of, say, seeing poor people desperate for money and milking them dry by selling them a get-rich-quick scam… or pointing at someone who made a mistake and making them look like a villain for the sake of clout.

Someone who lives a life of integrity will loathe this and will absolutely refuse to take advantage of others, even if it would otherwise make them rich or famous.

So they know better than to get themselves involved in public callouts, or in get-rich-quick schemes, or, if they’re a landlord, charging their tenants unreasonably high rent.

3) They are true to their word

People like to say that promises are meant to be broken. But people with strong moral integrity say otherwise—when they make promises, they stick by them.

They don’t just randomly and haphazardly promise things to other people, of course.

In fact, because of their commitment to honoring their promises, they simply don’t like making promises too often. Why make promises you aren’t going to keep after all?

It doesn’t matter if others fail to see and appreciate the respect they show to their promises, because what matters is that they, by themselves, fulfilled their promises.

4) They take responsibility for their actions

Nobody is perfect, and sometimes we end up hurting others even if we didn’t mean to.

What sets apart those with integrity from those without is that they don’t make excuses. They don’t say “what, am I not allowed to make mistakes? I’m only human!” or try to act like it never happened.

They admit their mistakes instead and apologize. And when they apologize, they don’t say it in a “sorry that you’re offended” kind of way—they mean what they say.

It’s not like mistakes are the end of the world, after all. And if anything, by admitting that they have made mistakes they’re opening themselves to the opportunity to learn from said mistakes.

5) They call out others who are clearly in the wrong

Someone with moral integrity won’t just sit by and watch other people do objectionable things in front of them—they will call them out on it.

And by that I don’t mean they’d be quick to tell other people about that person, but that they’ll try to approach the person in the wrong and try to talk to them about it.

They would offer them an opportunity to clarify themselves, try to understand them, and then try to tell them about why what they did was wrong.

Public call-outs are something they will only ever use as a last measure, and only then if the problem really is that bad and can’t be ignored.

6) They are empathetic

It is true that a person with integrity has a strong sense of justice, but this cannot be fulfilled without empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings with others. One who has this trait can put themselves in another’s shoes and walk in them to experience what the other is going through.

Without this, they may simply choose to ignore the pains of another, dismiss their issues as nonexistent, or just hope that everything will go away and iron themselves out.

This is why these two values go hand in hand. With empathy, it invokes us to step in and stand where we are needed most. 

7) They are trustworthy

By that I mean that they live so closely by their values.

It doesn’t matter whether there’s someone watching them or not because they will do the right thing every time. They don’t try to act extra nice when other people are around and watching them because they have nothing to hide.

If, say, you put your wallet down near them and forgot to pick it up, then you can be sure that even if it takes you a month to look for it and get it back, not a single bill will be out of place.

Integrity requires one to be internally consistent with their standards, and reliability is attained through consistent results.

You can be sure to count on a person with integrity when the going gets tough.

They have proven to be trustworthy and you can almost always rely on them. When the two of you agree on something, they will try to perform as expected of them.

8) They can’t be bought

There are times when we might be pressured to give in and compromise ourselves for the sake of some favors.

Someone might offer a small fortune to skip the queue, or offer a promotion in exchange for silence.

But accepting these bribes slowly chips away at our integrity, and every single one can come back and haunt us at any time.

People who hold fast to their moral integrity understand this, and straight up refuse to accept bribes of any kind. To them, doing things outside of their moral code is nothing short of selling one’s soul.

9) They respect everyone

It’s easy enough to pass judgment on people who are less moral, or are too different from oneself to understand.

But someone with strong moral integrity knows better than to be selective on who to respect, because they stand to compromise their very integrity. After all, it’s hard to claim you have it if you respect the janitor less than the CEO.

We all live very different lives from one another, and sometimes what might seem like an easy choice to us might not be so for another.

So regardless of who they are, someone with integrity will do their best to respect everyone regardless of background or status.

10) They set clear boundaries

Integrity is not just about what one does, but how they do it.

It is a conscious way of living where one is unwavering in their beliefs and unconditional in their service.

They do not compromise their values just to get results. To a person with strong moral integrity, the journey is equally important.

To live a life of integrity means that a person must constantly assert themselves. They do not impose, in which they dominate and force their rules on someone else.

But rather, they confidently declare their intentions, and express their truths with courage. In so doing, they do not necessarily isolate themselves, for boundaries are different from walls.

A yes is a yes, and a no is a no.

Having a strong sense of integrity means that one is constantly self-aware, while also being sensitive to the presence of others.

Last words

It can take a while before we can truly ascertain someone’s moral strength.

Sometimes people can make a show of being outraged at injustice and immorality, but then care little for morality and justice when there’s nobody around.

You need to look past the surface to see who truly has integrity. Do they act the same around different people? Do they act differently when there’s no one around? How trustworthy are they?

And of course, what are their motivations?

It is important to remember not just the what and how of the things we do, but the why too. Not for the convenience or praise, but because it’s what’s right.

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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