Integrity ( GS Paper 4)


What is Integrity?

  • The word integrity evolved from the Latin word integer, meaning whole orcomplete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. One may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
  • Integrity means following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.
  • If one would have to teach only one value to live by, it should be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so one should never allow oneself to ever do anything that would damage one’s integrity.
  • Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue.

Following quotes explain Integrity:

  • “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone
  • “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” – Chinua Achebe
  • “You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside.” – Alan Cohen
  • “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.” -Warren Buffet

How to Have Everyday Integrity?

  • Keep your promises even if it takes extra effort.
  • Never betray a friend’s trust even if you get in trouble.
  • Return money that you noticed someone dropped without expecting a reward.
  • Ignore someone’s advice on how to cheat on your taxes and not get caught.
  • Do not let someone else take the blame for something you did.
  • If someone gives you confidential information, never tell anyone what you know.
  • When it is obvious to you a relationship is over, don’t drag it out but discuss it openly.
  • For a person with integrity, the end does not justify the means.

Integrity in the Workplace:

  • Work when you are supposed to and save socializing, snacking, searching the Internet and personal phone calls for break time.
  • Show respect to coworkers with appropriate conversation and empathy.
  • If you are in management, keep your employees informed so they will know what is coming and what needs to be done.
  • Be responsible. Do what you say you will do.
  • Use materials for work and not personal use.
  • If you make a mistake and a team’s project gets messed up or you miss a deadline, own up to your mistake. Don’t let teammates take the fall.
  • Work together as a team. This builds trust and shows integrity.
  • If you find yourself in a conflict of interest, get out of it as soon as possible.
  • Don’t accept praise of acclaim for someone else’s work. That includes stealing someone’s idea or pretending to have worked on a successful project.
  • If your company asks you to do something against your personal code of conduct, refuse. If it means losing a good paying job, so be it. Find a more ethical company to work for.

What is difference between Integrity and Honesty?

  • Honesty is “truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness; freedom from deceit or fraud.”  Integrity is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”  The difference, therefore, is that honesty simply means telling the truth, while integrity means having high moral character and living by a strict set of ethics and principals (i.e., doing the right thing, whether it benefits you or not). You can have honesty without integrity, but you cannot have integrity without honesty.
  • But although integrity needs honesty, it does not mean you always have to be absolutely honest to others. It just means you have to be absolutely honest to your self.
  • While honesty can also be defined in negative terms as the absence of deceit, integrity has to be defined in positive terms. Integrity is an active adherence to principles, to values.
  • Honesty is certainly a virtue, but the demands of honesty are not necessarily as rigorous as those of integrity. For instance, a person might honestly sell a product that has not been thoroughly tested under the premise that the product has not been shown to be unsafe. However, to act with integrity a person would have to either (A) explicitly warn a consumer that the product is untested or (B) refrain from selling the product entirely if there was any possibility of harm for the consumer. The difference here is between a necessary course of action (integrity) and a passive adherence to the truth (honesty).
  • If honesty only requires that a person avoid telling lies or intentionally deceiving others, it leaves open many possibilities to act immorally. One can be honest and immoral at the same time (as in above example).
  • Honesty is defined by a person’s relationship to truth and deception, but integrity is defined by a person’s relationship to principles, to codes of conduct and/or to morality. Integrity stands as a more broadly demanding concept, morally, in comparison to honesty.
  • Depending on one’s values, integrity may sometimes demand action (politically in form of protest or socially in the form of aiding those in need). Honesty, to the contrary, only demands that a person refrain from lying.

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