Week four: Integrity
Do you follow through on your commitments and promises? Are you trustworthy? Do you communicate openly and honestly? Your response to these probing questions may well be a resounding “yes”. The reality is often much more about justifying why we haven’t done something or missing that deadline or avoiding a potentially challenging conversation.
Relationships and reputations are lost and made during times of crisis. People are always going to remember how they were treated during the pandemic, particularly higher education students such as yourself, as you enter university during the most unsettling era in anyone’s memory.
Integrity is often thought of us as something that is simply part of your character. I believe it is a skill and that there are behaviours and actions that demonstrate integrity if you can make the effort to incorporate them into your day-to-day:
Graciousness – This is all about simple consideration with others, expressing gratitude and recognising achievements and looking for ways to support others or just even being able to notice when someone needs help. To be gracious you actually just need to slow down and start noticing more.
Respect – People with integrity value other people by showing respect. In our day-to-day it looks like this: being on time for meetings and tutorials, meeting project deadlines and keeping people’s feelings in mind. You demonstrate this trait by exercising punctuality, care with your words and careful consideration of people’s ideas and emotions.
Honesty – Integrity requires honesty. Those with integrity strive to be truthful. They own up to mistakes and try to learn from them. This openness and willingness to be vulnerable and transparent goes a long, long way to building trust.
Following through – People with integrity follow through on their commitments. To demonstrate trustworthiness, avoid over-promising. If you’re unable to complete a task or meet a deadline, be sure to let others know as quickly as possible. If you are trusted with personal information, respect it.
Being accountable – Those with integrity take accountability for their actions. They are also organized and proactive making sure they deliver on their responsibilities. They are good at prioritising commitments so they are not taking on too much.
One of the best ways to live with integrity is to understand your values and how they show up in your life each day. Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They help us to determine what is important to us. Values describe the personal qualities we choose to embody to guide our actions; the sort of person we want to be; the manner in which we treat ourselves and others, and our interaction with the world around us.
Values are a bit like our own inner compass. It is worth spending time defining what your values are. Once you have narrowed them down, it’s about understanding how that value is present in your life (or not).
Identifying your values is well worth the time. You’ll find it so much easier to plan your day/week, make decisions and act with integrity.
Integrity calls on us to really think about our behaviour, our actions and what these convey to others. Remember, that when times are uncertain and people are upset, it can be even harder to remain positive, live by your values and continue to be respectful.
It can be more challenging to practise accountability if those around you are justifying their behaviour because of lockdown restrictions or because they are feeling stressed.
It’s harder to continue to do a great job academically if inside you are crumbling or are feeling unproductive so share what’s happening with staff and fellow students and make space to process change and uncertainty.