Recent reader feedback has sparked some additional thinking on my part on issues related to integrity. But first, a few comments and suggestions on other topics.
Regarding last week's comments on out-of-control meetings, one reader noted that some volunteers are also looking for a social outlet, so her group led with a business meeting, followed by optional social time.
In terms of gaining focus (Oct. 31), a specific approach to using breathing was posted: "Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger and breathe three times. Repeat this at each of the tips of the next three fingers. At the thumb, place the tip of the index finger at the base of the thumb and breathe three times. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the same practice till you feel focused."
Next, an excellent suggestion for shy people from someone who's been there herself (Nov. 21): "I was once extremely shy, too, but my method to overcome it was to look for others who also were shy and to approach them and converse -- parties, classes. I bypassed groups. So many people are waiting for someone to approach them, are shy, have low self-esteem, and need to be included, affirmed, accepted with warmth. It worked!"
Now, on to the main event. The Jan. 16 column focused on ways to manage a challenge to your integrity. This led to a follow-up question: "Your reply dealt mostly with resolving misunderstandings. What if there was no misunderstanding and the person really was questioning your integrity? Then what should you do?"
First of all, look in the mirror. Have you given any cause to be questioned? This may feel a bit harsh, but you need to determine what, if any, responsibility you have for this. If you sometimes shade the truth, withhold uncomfortable information, or take the easier path, you may have set a precedent -- even a slight one -- for being considered untrustworthy.
Don't just take your own word for it; find a person you trust who is familiar with the situation, and get a second opinion.
If you conclude that you are being unjustly accused, you'll have some serious thinking to do. First, consider if the accuser is credible and influential. If not, then it may be a case of "least said, soonest mended."
However, if the person is in a position to damage your reputation more broadly, take steps to protect yourself. Start with your boss, laying out your concerns, and asking for help. Be sure to go in with ideas on what you'd like from your boss to help him or her be more effective in assisting you. If you don't get the support you're looking for, you may want to go to your HR department for advice.
Worst case, you may decide that your workplace no longer serves you, and you may choose to seek a new position. Do this from a position of strength so that you don't make a choice out of desperation.
Readers, you always make me think! Keep the comments coming.