It just takes a few words to destroy trust and to appear shady.

Several years ago, I made plans on a Saturday night to do dinner and drinks with a business owner I had just hired to do a small project for my business. At dinner, he mentioned to me that he had also made plans to meet up with a few women later that evening at a nightclub, and he asked me if I’d like to join. Being single at the time, it sounded like fun so I accepted the offer.

However, I soon regretted my decision when he then said, “Just don’t tell them I have a girlfriend.”

Stunned by this comment about his 5-year partner, I naively blurted out, “Why not?”

His reply: “You never know where the night might take us.”

He probably thought I would somehow be impressed by his behavior, but his comment had the opposite effect.  The fact that he was open to “extra-curricular activities” outside of his 5-year relationship immediately destroyed any credibility and trust he had built with me over the prior months.

If he was willing to violate the trust he had with someone he supposedly cared deeply about (a woman he was thinking about marrying), there’s no way I felt I could trust him to do right by me in the future.

If you ever find yourself saying something like, “Just don’t tell _____” (i.e. “just don’t tell our colleague Jim,” or “just don’t tell my wife,” or “just don’t tell our customers,” or “just don’t tell the boss,” etc.), catch yourself and ask why you are doing what you are doing.

To be clear, I’m not referring to something trite like “Just don’t tell my wife I had a cheeseburger for lunch today.” I’m referring to comments that imply that you lack integrity.

It’s easy to think such behavior will ingratiate you with the person who’s in on your action. However, all this does is get people to wonder if you will be shady behind their back, too.

In the rare situation where someone is actually impressed by your deceitfulness, that’s someone who will probably think it’s ok to be sneaky behind your back, too. Do you really want to be involved with people like that?

Integrity does not have an “on/off” switch. Keep yours “on” at all times…


Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You.” His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students.