Integrity--being morally upright--is critical for building trust with others and creating the solid relationships great businesses and personal wellness thrive on. In fact, there's research that proves companies with leaders with a sense of morals do better than those where leaders have no clearly defined ethical direction.
But not everyone exhibits this precious trait. There are clear warning signs that a person you're dealing with probably won't do the right thing.
1. Ambiguous, indirect or nonspecific speech. A person without integrity will try to suck you in emotionally instead of providing real facts you can check or hold them accountable with. It's easier for them to lie to you later if they avoid details now.
2. Defensiveness. The person will offer a million attacks and excuses when called out for fear of having their web of deceptions and fallibility revealed.
3. Language and behavior inconsistency. They may change their story frequently to make it seem more credible. Behavior can shift according to the situation, and they will say one thing but do another. Subsequently, they don't appear authentic.
4. Inability to apologize or accept accountability. Someone without integrity is perfectly happy to let others take the fall for their mistakes or even deliberately point fingers at others. Because they tend to be egotistical, they aren't very sensitive to how they negatively influence others and won't say they're sorry for problems they create. Compassion doesn't come naturally.
5. Lack of reliability. Loyalties and what's important can change on a whim. Subsequently, they fail to consistently meet commitments and make people question whether they'll follow through.
6. Frequent compromises. Someone without integrity usually is uncertain about the people they want to impress. Rather than stick to their own values, they bend at every turn of the hat to seem likeable or intelligent to others and to avoid missing opportunities.
7. Bragging. Egotism drives the individual to toot their own horn. They have a hard time giving others credit, even when it's deserved. Their ability to promote themselves can help them climb the ladder but can harbor resentment among people whose contributions they never recognize.
8. Rude arguments. Because a person without integrity thinks of themselves before others, they have trouble arguing in a civil way. They dig in their heels to insist they're right and avoid being revealed as a liar, and they won't be open minded to learn from others or find appropriate solutions.
9. Lying. To a person without integrity, the truth has little value. They will tell all manner of falsehoods so long as it helps them come out on top. It can be difficult to detect the lies, however, because they often can speak with eloquence and conviction. The worst offenders also are expert actors who are capable of manipulating vocal tone and body language to send signals of trustworthiness.
10. Emotional disconnection. A person with poor integrity might not be as able to discern emotional cues from others. But even if they are, their egotism gets in the way and makes them dismiss the feelings of others as being less important than their own wellbeing, gain or satisfaction. Because they don't want to admit they are doing harm, they rewrite reality in their own minds and mentally or verbally minimize what's happening.
11. Lack of forgiveness. While someone without integrity might insist others cut them slack, they usually don't see the value in giving the benefit of the doubt to others. They offer second chances rarely, if at all.
12. Demonstration of high intelligence. Unfortunately, the very intelligence that can attract you to a person without integrity is also what allows them to manipulate you and keep their deceptions straight. They are able to remember details and listen well to gain information to use later. Their smarts can allow them to weasel out of trouble, avoid consequences and stay in a position of power.
If you see these signs in someone, keep your guard up. But remember, too, that character isn't completely innate. We can learn and change based on experiences, and the wise leader always believes they can be better tomorrow than they are today. And helping someone else become upright is, at the very core, arguably what integrity really is about.