Integrity is something we know is important to have ourselves and to recognize in others if we ever want to successfully collaborate in work or play, but just like love and trust we don’t always know how to speak about it’s presence. We more often have an emotional or body experience of its absence.

I like how Werner Erhard speaks about integrity. He makes it doable and seeable and gives some clue as to its absence before the inevitable pain hits.

He speaks about integrity as wholeness and therefore as workability. If a wheel is whole it works. If there’s spokes missing or broken then it doesn’t work.

In dealings with other people integrity is about keeping your word. If you don’t keep your word, if your word is broken, then your dealings with other people don’t work. You are out of integrity.

If the person you are dealing with has no idea about how to keep their word, then no matter how kind and loving they seem, your collaboration will not work.

Some people are very slippery with their word. There’s no point getting upset about that as people will always behave like themselves, but it’s important to see. So often we feel the hurt or the let down before we see what was broken. It’s so much more confusing when a basically kind and loving person does it, but seeing where they broke their word, or actually never gave their word even when you thought they did, can help to clarify. They may be kind and loving, but you can’t collaborate with them.

Humberto Maturana says that ALL relationship problems are resentment for broken promises that were never made.

One map to navigating unworkability is to clarify what isn’t working and ask for a promise. When that promise is then broken you have grounds for complaint, until that time you are just stewing about something that they aren’t doing that you wrongly assumed they promised to do.

The classic relationship one is that by living with someone you assume they will do their share of the housework. When they don’t you get resentful. But they actually never promised to do your version of their share. A simple conversation clarifying promises can make all the difference. If someone says they cannot promise what you are asking, it’s actually a gift of clarity. You then get to decide whether or not you want to continue with what they are willing to promise, or not. That’s for you to decide and the consequences are then yours to manage.

Thats my take on Werner’s take on integrity. I like it.



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