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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

This is the day for integrity:

Don't Be a Hypocrite

Be on the lookout for contradictions or hypocrisy in your behavior and the behavior of others. Catch yourself using double standards. Notice when others do. Because hypocrisy is a natural human tendency, theoretically this should be easy. Look closely at what people say they believe. Compare this with what their behavior implies. Dig out inconsistencies in your thinking and behavior. Notice when you profess a belief, and then act in contradiction to that belief. Notice how you justify or rationalize inconsistencies in your behavior. Figure out the consequence of your hypocrisy. Does it enable you to get what you want without having to face the truth about yourself? Figure out the consequences of others’ hypocrisy. However, if you don’t see hypocrisy in yourself, look again and again and again.

Day Three: Beware of Hypocrisy; Notice Contradictions in Your Life

People are hypocritical in at least three ways. First, they tend to have higher standards for those with whom they disagree than they have for themselves or their friends. Second, they often fail to live in accordance with their professed beliefs. Third, they often fail to see contradictions in the behavior of people with high status.

Hypocrisy, then, is a state of mind unconcerned with honesty. It is often marked by unconscious contradictions and inconsistencies. Because the mind is naturally egocentric, it is naturally hypocritical. Yet at the same time, it can skillfully rationalize whatever it thinks and does. In other words, the human mind naturally wants to see itself in a positive light. The appearance of integrity is important to the egocentric mind. This is why, as humans, we actively hide our hypocrisy from ourselves and others. And although we expect others to adhere to much more rigid standards than the standards we impose on ourselves, we see ourselves as fair. Though we profess certain beliefs, we often fail to behave in accordance with those beliefs.

Only to the extent that our beliefs and actions are consistent, only when we say what we mean and mean what we say, do we have intellectual integrity.

When you resolve to live a life of integrity, you routinely examine your own inconsistencies and face them truthfully, without excuses. You want to know the truth about yourself. You want to know the truth in others. By facing your own hypocrisy, you begin to grow beyond it (while recognizing that you can never get full command of your hypocrisy because you can never get full command of your egocentricity). When you recognize it in others (especially those of status), they are less able to manipulate you.

Strategies for reducing hypocrisy in yourself:

  1. Begin to notice situations in which you expect more from others than you do from yourself. Pin down the areas of your greatest hypocrisy (these are usually areas in which you are emotionally involved). Do you expect more from your spouse than you do from yourself? From your coworkers? From your subordinates? From your children?
  2. Make a list of beliefs that seem most important to you. Then identify situations in which your behavior is inconsistent with those beliefs (where you say one thing and do another). Realize that what you really believe is embedded in that which you do, not that which you say. What does your behavior tell you about yourself? (For example, you might say that you love someone while often failing to behave in accordance with his or her interests.)

Strategies for noticing hypocrisy in others:

  1. Observe the people around you. Begin to analyze the extent to which they say one thing and do another. Compare their words to their deeds. For example, notice how often people claim to love someone they criticize behind the person’s back. This is a common form of bad faith.
  2. Think about the people you are closest to—your partner, spouse, children, or friends. To what extent can you identify hypocrisy or integrity in those relationships? To what extent do they say what they mean and mean what they say? What problems are caused by their hypocrisy?

"We are companions in hypocrisy." —William Dean Howells

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