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Being Loyal to Those Who Are Absent

Being Loyal to Those Who Are Absent
“To retain the loyalty of those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.”
- Stephen Covey

 

Loyalty to Those Who Are Absent 

It can feel good to find a colleague who will listen when we want to complain about a manager, a co-worker, or a client. When we want to confess someone else’s sins. When we want to vent.

 

It can feel especially good when we discover that colleague shares our frustrations. We feel validated.

 

When we confide in our colleague by complaining about someone else, it can also feel like we’re strengthening our relationship. Building intimacy. But we’re not.

 

What we’re actually doing is showing our colleague we’re the type of person who will confess their sins some day. It can feel like we’re strengthening a relationship. But the opposite is happening.

 

One test of our principles is how loyal we are to people who aren’t in the room when their name comes up. Being loyal to those who are absent doesn’t mean we aren’t critical. But when criticism is appropriate, we’re constructive to the point that we wouldn’t be ashamed if the person we’re discussing happened to overhear the conversation.

 

If we make snide or disrespectful comments about others when they’re not in the room, or if we remain silent when it’s happening, we’re sending a message to everyone who is in the room.

 

That we’ll do the same to them when the situation changes.

 

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