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Integrity – the only thing that counts

Investigation 30th April 2016

The only thing that counts in living your life is integrity.  It is both necessary and sufficient.

I heard this statement on the radio recently, and discovered I had overheard part of a broadcast of the Radio 4 programme ‘Great Lives’[1]; John Lloyd was talking to Matthew Parris about the life of Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983), to whom he attributed the saying.  Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, author, designer, inventor and futurist.  He is perhaps best known as the inventor of the geodesic dome, and has been immortalised by scientists who have named certain carbon molecules ‘fullerenes’.

It struck me as a saying borne out of wisdom learned from experience, but also as one that is highly applicable to our profession as conflict resolution experts and investigators.  I researched a little more and found that Buckminster Fuller was a fascinating man, ahead of his time, with a fount of wisdom to share.  Among many memorable sayings recorded was another that was similar: “Integrity is the essence of everything successful”.

A necessary quality for a successful life?  It seems to me that it is.  But certainly it is a quality we as investigators and mediators need in order to engage successfully with the parties who are in conflict, whether we are investigating a complaint under a formal process, or enabling communication through harassment mediation.  We need to demonstrate integrity if we are to establish rapport and successful communication with them.  This is part of building their trust both in us as professionals and in the fairness of the process, particularly if it has been imposed upon them (as with the Respondent to a harassment complaint).

it involves behaving in a fair, ethical and trustworthy manner

In part it is a matter of transparency, such as being clear in explaining the process, but it also involves behaving in a fair, ethical and trustworthy manner.  It also involves making sure we have understood properly what the person means by what they have said, so that we do not misreport them or base findings on false assumptions, and so that the action that follows from the report we write can be seen to be fair.