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Honor the Absent: A Reflection Of Your Integrity

By: Jerry R. Mitchell

Stephen R. Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states,

“One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to

those who are not present. In doing so, we build the trust of those who are

present. When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those

present.” Acceptance of this premise of ” loyalty to the absent” should

become part of your personality. Covey uses the term ” duplicity” to

describe disloyalty.

This ingenious and somewhat simple principle has resolved many

people-to-people problems in my dealings with my family, friends and

clients. Suppose you and I were talking alone, and we were criticizing

another person both of us knew in a way that we would not dare tom do if

they were present. Now what would happen if you and I had a falling out? You

know I’m going to be discussing your weaknesses with someone else. That’s

what you and I did behind our friends back. You know my nature. I’ll sweet

talk to your face and badmouth you behind your back. You’ve seen me do it.

That’s the lesson of duplicity.

Unfortunately, intimidation frequently is a cause of duplicity. The

strong-wi1led personalities typically found in some people tend to inhibit

open communication between people. If a person is afraid of having a frank

discussion with another person, he or she may avoid such a direct encounter

with that person and seek instead to resolve a problem indirectly through me

or some other third party.

The fallacy of this approach is obvious. If I participate with another

person in a discussion critical of someone who isn’t present, despite the

best of intentions, I’ve demonstrated by my conduct that I will listen to

disloyal discussions about people who are absent. This breeds a lack of

trust in me. Without the trust of other people, I can’t be effective. The

truth is, none of us can.

I have seen the power of Covey’s principle at work. Duplicity is a difficult

habit to break. But as people begin to trust one another to be honest and

open, interpersonal relationships begin to grow and flourish. As a

consequence people work much more effectively together.

This Entrepreneurship article was written by Jerry R Mitchell on 5/22/2006

Ethics and integrity in Entrepreneurship