Integrity: the Cornerstone
of Etiquette

Office Meeting

In conversation with a group of people recently, someone posed the question, “How do you recognize trustworthiness?”

After a round of opinion sharing, we decided our consensus was that trustworthiness is recognized by a person’s integrity.

When you live in integrity, you always aim to do the right thing, in every situation you face.  You embody the maxims: “my word is my bond,” and “walk your talk.”

In fact, integrity is a basic element and foundation of etiquette.

Etiquette and Integrity

Etiquette gives us the guidelines for how to show up with others – being mindful of where you are, who you are with, and what is socially acceptable.  It helps you solve how to handle situations while in the company of others, avoiding offending or confusing anyone. 

Aiming to be etiquette-ful runs along side showing up in integrity.  And a compromise of either is often experienced, if not expressed, in sensory terms:

  • “What she did left a bad taste in my mouth.”
  • “You can sniff him out by his rudeness to those who work for him.”
  • “You can feel his incivility!”
  • See how he doesn’t pay attention to other's needs; he didn’t R.S.V.P. and just showed up and helped himself to the food.”
  • Listen to that tone of voice!  You can hear her disrespect!“

Etiquette is the tangible, observable aspect of integrity which, as in these examples, the lack of is sensed or felt by those with whom you interact.  

Demonstrating Integrity

When you stand in integrity, and act in a courteous, respectable manner, the people surrounding you take notice.  They feel the sincerity and authenticity in your actions.

What are some etiquette-ful things you might do to demonstrate a desire for integrity?

  • Truly listen to what others are saying.
  • Give others room to express their views.
  • Keep your word.
  • Meet deadlines.
  • Know and clearly communicate your intentions.
  • Show care and concern for the people in your life; really notice them.
  • Respect the space of others.
  • Respond to communications in a timely manner.
  • Show appreciation by looking for the positive and say and mean "Thank you."
  • Give important feedback in an honest and kind manner.
  • Look for right timing of your actions and words.
  • Clean up after yourself no matter where you are.

These are just some of the ways in which etiquette and integrity work in tandem. 

However, there may still be moments when you get caught up in your own thoughts, submit to boredom, or just can’t give your undivided attention. 

How do you pull yourself back?  Ask yourself:

  • What am I aiming for in this situation?
  • Is what I am saying and doing honest?
  • Am I being sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others?
  • Am I supposed to talk or is silence the best thing right now?
  • What’s needed to be respectful of other’s space in this moment?
  • Is someone’s voice not being heard?  How can I help this situation?

Use these questions to draw yourself back to mindfulness in your current  situation, whether you are in a business meeting, on a train or plane, or spending time with people who love you.

Everyone needs help acclimating and being in sync with others from time to time.  Particularly when you are new to a group, or just meeting someone.

The really nice thing about being in integrity while aiming to be etiquette-ful is you immediately put others at ease.  They feel welcomed, included, and encouraged.

Think how you feel in the presence of a person like that.  Their intentions and honesty are sensed and felt and trusted. 

On the other hand, we all have negative moments and sometimes bad days.  While it isn’t always easy, use your honesty and empathy to forgive these times.  You may need the same courtesy from someone in a moment of negativity. 

Recognize that no one is perfect.  We all are just trying to do our best.

Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.

~ Maya Angelou

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