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How to Maintain Professional Integrity in a Chaotic Office

Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin

It can be hard to stay positive in the face of negativity, but these tips can help

Most of us know what it’s like to work at an office that's in complete chaos. Your co-workers are constantly chatting and gossiping, everything is unorganized, and your supplies are being taken without permission – there might even be some sabotage going on.

Working in a space that's filled with negativity is draining, and it can be difficult to avoid becoming just like the people you're surrounded by. In fact, according to Psychology Today, our brains are naturally sensitive to negativity. Even if you're in a good mood, your brain will still turn a good amount of attention to that negative source – and your good mood will go right out the window. So how can you stop yourself from becoming just like your not-so-professional co-workers?  

Don't let anyone else bring you down; here's how to maintain professional integrity in a chaotic office.

Communicate effectively

What you say, how you say it and when you choose to say it, are important factors in maintaining your professional integrity. Communicating effectively not only has the ability to improve your relationships with coworkers, but it can also put a stop to bad behavior from others as well.

For instance, if one of your co-workers loves to gossip about certain people in the office, instead of participating, rather than smiling, nodding and hoping they go away, tell them that you're not comfortable talking about your co-workers in such a way. This will stop them from coming to you with the latest rumors and possibly even stop them from gossiping in the office altogether. Be honest with your co-workers about what is intolerable to you, but be civil and neutral.

Keep a positive attitude

It's hard to stay positive when you're surrounded by chaos and negativity, but you've got to keep a positive mental attitude if you want to maintain your professional integrity. Becoming negative only adds to the office chaos, and it can impact the quality of your work as well. If there's no positivity in the office, how can you help grow your company?

Some tips for keeping a positive mental attitude include:

  • Look at the bright side of situations.
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Practicing breathing exercises or meditation.


Coworkers can feed off the negativity of each other, but keeping a positive mental attitude can neutralize the chaos in your office.

Lead by example  

Maintaining your own professional integrity is one thing, but if you really want to improve your work life, the integrity of your entire office needs to  improve. A great way to do that is leading by example. Leading by example will set the right tone for your office space. You can't force anyone to change, but you can subtly influence and encourage them to do better by practicing what you preach, so to speak.

For instance, if your co-workers are sending really unprofessional emails, don't follow the crowd, instead lead by example. Send and reply to emails in a professional manner so co-workers can see the difference and change their ways. You can also set the bar for how your co-workers interact with each other. Don't criticize or complain about people, be genuinely interested in others, listen to them and be respectful of other people's opinions. When your colleageues see how you interact with your peers, they'll become more aware of their own interactions.

Be sure to praise others for their improvements as well, even the smallest improvements. Studies show that when the desired behavior is followed by pleasant or desirable consequences (like praise) that behavior is likely to be repeated. Be the change you want to see in your office, and take notice when others follow suit.

Be honest

Maintaining professional integrity in sales can be especially difficult. If you're in sales, you've most likely been around co-workers who will take shortcuts to inflate their numbers, and there are even those types of people who will blatantly lie to customers just to make a sale. Don't let yourself fall into this behavior just to keep up with the competition.

For example, if a colleague tells a potential client that your company can build them a website in one month just to make the sale when they know it will take two or three, that can do some serious damage to your company's reputation. Stay true to yourself and be honest with clients – being honest can actually win you more sales.

Stay true to your values

If you love your job, but the office environment leaves little to be desired, you don't have to pack up and leave. You can maintain your professional integrity and learn how to stay true to your values amidst the chaos. With these tips, you can not only maintain your own professional integrity, but you can improve the integrity of your entire office and grow your company. Start with yourself and the rest will follow.

Image Credit: Credit: Fizkes/Shutterstock
Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin Member
I'm president and CTO of OptinMonster, a powerful lead generation tool that's installed in over 700,000 websites.