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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Archive: A Reputation for Honesty — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

Archive: A Reputation for Honesty — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

March 28th, 2014

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Read and listen to the first column in this series, Cultivating Your Career Reputations.

As I continue through this series, you will begin to see how each of the reputations relates to the others. This is exactly as it should be, as this is what happens in life. One reputation supports and effects the others. This week, I tackle honesty and how it relates to your life and career.
By some, honesty is seen as a fluid concept, shades of grey changing slightly depending on the needs of the moment, the people around and the risks involved. Little white lies sprinkle our days and yet we think nothing of them. We see them as merely a way to get along with others without putting us in danger of losing our job or of physical attack.

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In some ways, I agree with this perception, when you are truly confronting danger, but in most cases, people try to apply the same excuse to leaps of dishonesty that go far beyond the little white lie. No , I believe that we all must be as honest as possible as much as possible, less we slip into the delusion that honesty is only some vague philosophical concept that really doesn’t apply to the real world.
It is important to be honest with others, and yourself, for the simple reason that life demands it. Those who are chronically dishonest are always wary, always on guard, lest their deceptions be exposed. They pile lie upon lie to cover yet another lie until, inevitably, it all comes tumbling down, leaving those around them to suffer the consequences.

You need to cultivate a Reputation for Honesty because honesty is required to build trust. Trust is required by all of us who wish to do great things. We must trust that those around us are working in their best interest and the best interest of their work. We need to feel that we can turn our attention to this and that, without fear the others will somehow take advantage of our lack of attention. We need to feel that those around us will not do us harm. If you want to gain the trust of others, you must be as honest as possible.

Being honest is more than telling half-truths and white lies to smooth the waters. Honesty involves telling the truth even when it isn’t easy. Only petty people fear the truth. The people you want to know are not afraid of the truth or the person who speaks it. It may seem laughable, but there are others out there who respect honesty as much as you and it is those you need to seek out and emulate. Don’t be a “Yes Man”. Everyone will be better off for acknowledging the truth you present it to them. If not, the entire company, team or collaboration might be in danger of failure. No honesty, means no trust and this dooms any project before it can even begin.

Being honest with yourself is also terribly important. Too many of us hide our inadequacies behind false bravado, forcing others to suffer when our projects lag and tasks go undone. When we hide our failures, we hurt everyone, sometime even more than ourselves. I am sure you have been on the receiving end of a worker who hid their failures until the last minute, leaving you to explain the situation to your management with no time to craft a new solution. You don’t like it when others do that to you, so why would you even think of doing it to others. Be honest and take responsibility for your own actions, good and bad.

Developing a reputation for honesty helps you in several ways. First, you will find that people are more open to you…and your ideas. They know you will give an honest opinion and not use the information in ways that might hurt them. People will also give you the benefit of the doubt when issues do arise. Who will the boss believe more…the person who is always honest or one that is known for shading their honesty?

Of course, there is a complimentary danger when you develop a reputation for honesty. Should you ever abandon that honesty, or use the trust you have developed to take advantage of someone, the retribution will be swift and heavy. When you violate someone’s trust, especially after professing your honesty, they will see it as the ultimate insult. You will find yourself punished more severely than you may have thought possible. Even more, you’ll know that you probably deserve it. Don’t pretend honesty, if you don’t truly believe in its importance or your fall will be worse than if you had been chronically dishonest all your life. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start being honest, though, only that you need to continue it in the future.

Cultivate a Reputation for Honesty and you open many doors that others find closed to them. Honesty leads to trust and trust leads to collaboration with others on equal footing. Deny this honesty, or deny this trust, and you are crippling your career with every passing day.

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