7 ways to display integrity without saying a word

You know how you’re never impressed when someone brags about their accomplishments? Truly successful people allow their achievements to speak for themselves. 

Similarly, those who have integrity don’t have the desire to talk about the merits of their character—it’s their actions that do all the communication for them. 

So how does the world get insight into your integrity without it coming from the horse’s mouth so to speak?

Here are seven ideas on integrity that you might find inspiring. 

1) It’s all about being altruistic… 

Altruism is when you selflessly help others without having any expectations. 

“It is often considered one of the defining characteristics of what it means to be human,” says Illinois-based psychologist Dr. Jessica Myszak.

Myszak says that altruism is similar to the concept of karma. 

“Altruism often arises from a personal sense of compassion or duty, and it can be a powerful force for good in the world,” she says. “It can take many different forms, from volunteering your time to service organizations to anonymously donating gifts or money to those in need.”

Myszak relates that empathy is often at the center of altruistic behavior. It can be motivated by a personal satisfaction or “moral reward” one gets from helping others.

2) …and taking accountability for your actions

Taking accountability for your actions is paramount when it comes to integrity—and this applies to both our personal and professional lives. 

Accountability is the foundation of trust and credibility, says Aldin Beslagic, a Strategic Partner at Bestlogic Staffing in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. 

We don’t scapegoat or blame someone else for our mistakes or shortcomings. Admitting when we’re wrong and trying to make things right shows a strong and ethical character—as does accepting the consequences. 

“A leader who takes accountability for their actions and decisions is more likely to earn the respect of their team, inspire loyalty, and ultimately drive success,” he says. 

3) Realize that respect is a two-way street

People with integrity know that there are no exceptions when it comes to respect: we are entitled to and we are expected to be respectful, says Marli Rusen from The Mirror Method.

“It does not matter whether you initiated the discussion or were ‘provoked’ to respond. In each situation, everyone should show up in a respectful manner,” she emphasizes.  

“You can vehemently disagree, you can hold others accountable, you can file complaints, you can sue, you can do all sorts of things in the name of your beliefs, causes and experiences. But for respect to go anywhere—and stay awhile—our communication to and about each other must remain respectful.”

4) Be transparent and avoid having an agenda

Having integrity means being transparent in your communication. You don’t feel the need to manipulate people so that they will come round to your perspective and opinions.  

You also know that it’s important for people to have all the information so that they can make informed decisions—another good reason for being transparent. 

This doesn’t mean that you don’t keep personal things private (or privileged information in professional settings), but people with integrity believe in open and honest communication. They don’t have anything to hide. 

5) Don’t react in the moment: Make sensible decisions—even when you’re stressed 

the science behind gut feelings 1 7 ways to display integrity without saying a word

A person of integrity will do their best to make the right choices—even if their own emotions are in turmoil. 

This could mean putting off decisions until they are in the right frame of mind and have analyzed all parts of the situation. 

They also have control over their reactions and will take some space so as to avoid being impulsive and doing damage to their relationships. 

Even if there’s an opportunity to get ahead, they refuse to violate their ethical code. What they’ll do is step back and see how things can be handled in the best interests of everyone involved. 

6) Be trustworthy and reliable 

Of course, what is integrity without trust and reliability? 

“Integrity means doing the right thing in the right way [and]it means adhering to values strongly held,” says Leadx writer Kevin Kruse

“Trust is a belief that someone is honest and credible; trust is earned by being honest, having a positive intent, having strong competencies, and a track record of results.”

Even though Kruse is relating integrity, trust, and reliability to the work world, it also applies to our personal lives—particularly our romantic relationships. 

Integrity and its counterparts (trust and reliability), are the most important factors if you want a lasting relationship. Without this foundation, the bond will basically be built on a house of cards. 

7) Have a high moral compass 

Having a high moral compass includes self awareness, respect for others, and empathy—particularly for people who are different from us, says life, business, and leadership coach John Miles

“[It also means having] humility, kindness, courage, honesty, fairness, justice, loyalty to family and friends—as well as generosity with time and resources. 

“A person of integrity will do what needs to be done even if, or even when, it is not a benefit to them as an individual,” says David Loy, Principal of Charlotte Operations. 

A person of integrity does what is right because it is the right thing to do, and they will do it at the right time.

Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching. It symbolizes who you are. As one spiritual writer puts it: “Integrity is a determination of the heart to do the right thing no matter what.”

Some of our favorite inspirational quotes on the idea of integrity:

“If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.” Marcus Aurelius 

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation.” Cheryl Hughes 

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” Czesław Miłosz

“Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.” 

Zig Ziglar 

Picture of Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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