10 traits of people who can maintain their integrity, even in difficult situations

We all have an individual moral compass that dictates our honesty, trustworthiness, and fairness. 

Maintaining these values when life is good is easy. It’s how we show up for others when life is tough that really matters. 

If the person walking in front of you drops $100, would you hand it back to them? Or when reversing out of a parking lot and accidentally denting someone’s car, would you leave a note and pay up? 

Would you judge someone else if they did/didn’t act in the same way?

As C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching”. 

Maintaining your honesty and morals even in more troublesome situations is important, both for yourself and for assessing the true nature of those around you. 

People with genuine integrity are hard to come by, and are people that you want to surround yourself with (or become more alike). They tend to share the following positive traits:

1) Honesty

A big part of consistent integrity is being honest, even in times when it isn’t so easy. 

Sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear, but little white lies can compromise integrity

For instance, not telling your friend that they don’t actually look that great in their outfit of choice. People with genuine integrity pride themselves on truthfulness and are always sincere. 

So yes, they’d probably tell you to go get changed.

2) Humility

Arrogance and bragging are not typical traits of individuals with genuine integrity

Even if they score an amazing promotion, or scale Mount Everest, you won’t hear them boasting about it. 

They may or may not be aware of their own self-worth, but they remain humble and modest when presenting themselves to others.

3) Selflessness

A friend might give you their leftovers to eat. But imagine they’re still eating, and you’ve forgotten your lunch. Would they offer up a bit of their sandwich to you? 

An individual with genuine integrity remains selfless and cares about the needs of others, even if it’s inconvenient to them. 

They truly care and are enriched by the happiness and success of others, even at their own expense (so would hopefully offer you a bite of that sandwich).

4) Kindness

Another sign of being able to maintain true integrity, even in difficult circumstances, is unwavering kindness. 

People with genuine integrity will still reach out and check up on you, even when they’re really busy. Or give their last bit of change to someone who is homeless. 

They truly care about being compassionate, thoughtful, and caring, and will prioritize kindness even when times are tough.

Trying to work on your own kindness? Why not try out one on our list of random acts of kindness?

5) Trustworthiness

You’ll have no doubts about trusting a person who has genuine integrity. Your deepest and darkest secrets will be safe with them, and you’ll have full confidence in their ability to listen, advise, and avoid gossiping afterwards.

With trustworthiness comes also loyalty. If Margot Robbie or Ryan Reynolds or whoever your partner’s celebrity crush is slides into their DMs, you’ll have no doubts about their faithfulness (although they should first check for catfishing, and second – ask for an autograph!).

6) Reliability

People with true integrity will be reliable and true to their word. You won’t get any empty promises or no-shows.

Their reliable actions will speak as loudly as their honest words, so if they said they’d show up to help you move house, you bet they’ll be there. Even if it’s on a Saturday and everyone’s hung over.

7) Authenticity

People with integrity will always show up as their true selves. This means that they will stand for what they care about and speak their minds, even in situations where this might not be so easy. 

You also won’t find them acting like a social chameleon and changing their personality to seduce or win over others.

This also doesn’t mean that they will lecture or try to brainwash those around them. They will simply be resolute in presenting their ideas without needing to convince others that they are right.

At a dinner party with a highly influential figure expressing very contrasting views, for example, a person of true integrity would voice how they feel differently. 

Depending on who is sitting at the table, standing up for what you believe in can be a scary prospect – but true integrity means sticking by your guns.

8) Respectfulness

Feeling undervalued or worthless is something you’ll never experience around someone of genuine integrity. 

They appreciate your time and your relationship, so you won’t find them running late to meetups or dates (unless in the case of emergencies, where they’ll be sure to communicate this to you). 

You’ll also not be on the receiving end of any petty or snide comments that might otherwise demean your self-worth.

9) Supportiveness

Everyone gets a little bit jealous or bitter at times. However, people with genuine and consistent integrity will raise up those around them, no matter their own feelings. 

They won’t tire of hearing about your day-to-day activities and will find endless patience to help you work through your struggles. They’ll cheerlead your accomplishments and will consistently encourage you.

10) Accountability

Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone readily accepts their share of the blame. Taking responsibility can be difficult. However, people with true integrity will be the first to fess up and say sorry if they’re at fault. 

Forgot a big deadline in a group project? They’ll admit their wrongdoing. 

Accidentally forget to feed a friend’s hamster over a weekend? They’ll acknowledge their mistake and hopefully profusely apologize (and maybe buy a new hamster).

Their honesty will drive them to be consistent in taking responsibility for their actions, even if it leaves them feeling guilty or shameful at times. 

Compromised integrity?

There are also situations in which even people with the most integrity will find themselves in moral dilemmas. Say you’re friends with a couple. One of them cheats, and makes you promise to not tell the other. Do you break that promise when asked for the truth? 

Or your best friend tells you where they’ve buried a body. Are you taking that secret to your own grave? 

A lot of integrity boils down to your own moral compass and what you consider fair. It’s being aware of those personal morals and sticking to them that matters, even when it’s not so easy. 

Regardless, a person of high integrity who can maintain their moral code regardless of circumstance is more likely to live a fulfilling and authentic life. Not to mention develop more honest and trustworthy relationships. 

Whether you’re trying to develop better integrity or assess whether someone is as genuine as they seem, work on staying true to your morals, no matter the situation.

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Picture of Tina Fey

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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