Dishonesty may be common but it is not desirable. Even those who are guilty of it recognize that dishonesty is not the best policy. When asked, they would tell you that they would prefer to be known as a person of honesty and integrity.
In a study conducted for the book The Day America Told the Truth, it was revealed that 91 percent of us lie on a regular basis and 20 percent cannot make it through a single day without lying. As Sissela Bok explains in the book, “Lying is a way of gaining power over other people through manipulating them in various ways. This is something that children learn… If we are mature, we have to unlearn any enjoyment of that power.”

If your reputation has been damaged by dishonesty, you can recover. You can become known as a person of honesty and integrity. Here are five principles that can help you rebuild your reputation:

1. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You can no longer compromise with the truth. Avoid not only telling outright lies, but also avoid embellishing the truth or exaggerating the facts. Your words reveal your character, so people must learn that they can believe your words. As the Psalmist implored, “Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:2, KJV).

2. If you promise to do something, do what you can to fulfill that promise. At the same time, avoid making promises you cannot keep. Even when you mean well, be careful not to over-commit yourself as this may result in broken promises. You must demonstrate that you can be trusted.

3. When you do lie, cheat or steal, confess it and apologize for it. When possible, make reparation. Do this on your own initiative instead of waiting to be “found out.” If you can acknowledge your lapses with integrity and honesty, the damage to your reputation will be minimized. In fact, it could actually help.

4. Maintain honesty even in seemingly small and insignificant ways. Beware of little white lies, and refuse to steal even a paperclip from your employer. If you want to become known as a person of integrity, you will be responsible in the little things of life. As author and speaker John Maxwell has said, “Integrity is about the small things. Little things make or break you. If you cross the line of your values—whether by an inch or by a mile—you’re still out of bounds. Honesty is a habit you ingrain by doing the right thing all the time, day after day, week after week, year after year.”

5. Remember that you are being watched. People are observing how you go about your life, and they are forming opinions about you. They are deciding whether you can be trusted or not. They are judging if you are a person of integrity. Your reputation depends on what they observe.

More importantly, God is watching what you do and why you are doing it. “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, KJV). So at all times, even when you think no one is watching, act with honesty and integrity.

Depending on how badly your reputation has been damaged in the past, it can take a while before it can be overcome. But by consistently applying these principles and others that I discuss in Women Under Construction, you can do it. You can rebuild your reputation, constructing a strong and stable life house in the process.

Juanita A. Shanks
4/5/2012 01:13:40 am

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