Some of my earliest memories are being taught to be honest, do the right thing and never lie. I think most young people grow up hearing those words — more often than we would like — but they certainly stick with us. As we grow into the more complex adult world definitions about what is right often get a little cloudy, but hopefully early lessons continue to guide us in our professional lives. Here are five ways to continue to “walk the high road.”
Don’t take what’s not yours.
It’s not like poaching a handful of candy from the dime store; there are major implications for theft of all kinds in adulthood. Sadly, more than a few people put their hands in our company till and lost their jobs as a result. Some even destroyed what appeared to be promising careers. On the flipside, our company found ways to provide basic money management coaching to people that just needed some help in this area.
Stick to the facts.
This applies to both verbal and written communication. In the short term it is easy to tell your boss what she wants to hear but that kind of truth-stretching might catch up to you later on. When speaking with your associates simply deliver the unvarnished truth or don’t talk about the subject at all. It’s even easier to exaggerate in written reports but, again, you never know when fumbling the facts may catch up to you.
With today’s social media the avenues to gossip online are staring you in face all the time. You may rationalize that friends and associates will “never find out,” but the fact is that nothing is secret any more. Gossiping seems perfectly innocent at first, but when it evolves into sharing confidential conversations it goes downhill quickly. Once you breach confidentiality, trust and relationships deteriorate. A simple rule of thumb is this: “If you can’t keep it positive, keep quiet.”
Think for yourself.
In today’s world, another key to “walking the high road” is to remain wary of anything that sounds too much like what you want to hear. I doubt I’m the only one to have been suckered into believing something that I “wanted” to believe and then sharing it — only to find out that it was an exaggeration or outright fabrication. My father taught me never to believe anything that sounds too good to be true, do my research and think for myself. It remains sage advice.
Stay calm in confrontation.
When resolving conflict, lead with an even hand, honesty and the facts. Let’s say you and a peer clearly disagree on an important issue and one or both of you spout off, maybe even by including a little character assignation. You are both upset and not talking to each other. The best solution is to take a breather, calmly write down your key points, sleep on it, review your notes and schedule another conversation the next day. You will certainly clarify the issues and may resolve the conflict altogether. Don’t let issues like this fester. Quick resolution is the best resolution.
Walk the high road in everything you do. You will feel better about yourself, you will earn the respect of others and you will sleep sounder.
published in the Nashville Business Journal