It’s Not About Judgement: Living in Integrity

“It just doesn’t make sense for me to change anything Amy. My wife seems happy enough, my kids have all the benefits of two parents, and quite frankly it costs me less to be married then to be divorced.” Marty has been having an affair with another woman for the past five years. “But what about Jude?” I ask. “Is it really fulfilling, the late-night texts and random nights here and there?” He shrugs.

I was talking with a colleague who runs a highly successful internship program. “As I interviewed potential interns this year, I learned that one of the schools I have a long-term relationship with has been talking negatively about my site.” I was surprised, and asked for more information. “The internship coordinator pulled students into her office and told them they will miss out on key elements of their internship if they chose me.”

Nancy is struggling with her job performance and came to me for some support. I ask her to describe her communication style with her bosses and colleagues. “I always speak my mind,” she explains. “Wait, what?” I ask with some trepidation. “I just tell them exactly what I think. My boss asked me to start a project last week and I just explained, look, that’s in your job description not mine; and besides, I’m not interested in doing it anyway.”

An old-fashioned word, integrity comes to mind with all three of these situations. Integrity is a word that can be thrown about in judgement and condemnation (“I would never have an affair!” or “That internship coordinator needs a talking to!”), but I suggest using it in a different way. When our actions and our values don’t match, sometimes we experience uncomfortable symptoms. Turns out Nancy has high levels of anxiety and, although she was trying to convince herself that her communication style was about empowerment, really she just felt like she was being disrespectful. Where are your behaviors and beliefs in conflict? Take some time this week to experiment and see what happens.