Can You Be Trusted?

You are a good person, right?  You’re trustworthy and honest, but is it possible that you are doing things that make your coworkers raise their eyebrows? People judge your honesty (or dishonesty) by seemingly insignificant actions.  As the expression goes, “he that will steal an egg, will steal an ox.”

If your coworkers, and managers perceive you to be dishonest, it is unlikely that they will tell you.  Instead, they will watch you closely, and will talk behind your back.  Therefore, it is up to you to make sure that you never do anything that will cause people to doubt your integrity.

See if you are guilty of any of these bad habits that may make your coworkers question your ethics:

Little thefts. (such as pens or notepads)  Do you use your office supply closet as your own stash of stationary?  You may think that people don’t notice, but they do.

Lies or exaggerations.  You told your coworker that you secured ten new customers, when it was actually six.  You assured your manager that you had completed the task, even though there was still about three hours of work left on it.  These little white lies will cause your managers and coworkers to doubt everything that you say.

Falsifying documents.  You change numbers in the reports to make them look a little better.  You backdate documents, so it appears that you met the deadline.  Be careful with this- falsifying documents is grounds for immediate dismissal.  Even if your manager encourages this behaviour, or appears to ‘look the other way’, nobody will protect you when these fraudulent acts are exposed.

Taking advantage of situations.  You come in late, leave early, and take two hour lunches.  When there is a staff lunch, you take enough for three people, and when you are on a business trip, you invoice everything.  Be careful- even if they don’t say anything, people are watching.  

Not correcting mistakes in your favour.  On payday, you were paid twice, or your manager forgot to subtract your vacation days from your Cuban holiday.  You wouldn’t be silly enough to tell them, would you?  Think about it- would you let them know if they forgot to pay you, or if they subtracted double vacation days?  If so, then you need to alert them of their mistake.  They will probably figure it out anyway, and if you didn’t tell them, it makes you look dishonest.

Talking badly about your coworkers behind their backs.  You are friendly to people’s faces, but behind their backs, you call them like you see them.  You are not fooling anybody.  Most people know that if you talk badly behind one coworker’s back, you probably also gossip about the others.  

Taking credit for a coworker’s work.  You didn’t actually say that you did the work, but you also didn’t correct your manager when he assumed that you did.  Nothing will set your coworkers against you faster than you taking credit for their work.

Withholding information.  You didn’t lie, but you didn’t tell the whole truth either.  Perhaps they walked away with a mistaken impression, but that isn’t your fault, is it?

Divulging information that is supposed to be confidential.  The information that you have access to in your job is supposed to be kept confidential, but some of it is just too good not to share with your coworkers.  Be careful, most organizations take a breach of confidentiality very seriously, and may even let you go because of it.

Even if you are discreet about your bad behaviour, it can still damage your reputation.  In fact, most people will pay even more attention to what you do when don’t know that you are being observed.  As the expression goes, “A person’s true character is revealed by what he does when no one is watching.”  Once someone has made a decision about your character, it can be very difficult to change their mind.  Before you do something that may be questionable, ask yourself, ‘is it worth it?’.

(Photo From:  Stuart Miles /


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