Leah Thomas

Trust is difficult to build, especially among coworkers. In professional settings, while you want to get along well with your colleagues, it's also natural to feel on edge. But don't worry — we've developed an easy trust test to determine which coworkers you can be yourself around, and which ones you should probably avoid spilling your work secrets to. If your colleague displays these traits, they shouldn't have your trust:

1. This person is overly defensive.

People who lack integrity work harder than most to defend themselves when they are caught in the middle of bad behavior. They refuse to simply admit wrongdoing because they value their reputation, their image and their overall power over others more than they value doing the right thing and upholding their morals. If someone is suspiciously defensive of blatantly bad behavior, this is definitely a red flag.

2. They are inconsistent.

If this person is constantly changing their explanations, altering their stories or telling events in a way you know to be false, you can also consider that an ethical red flag. It is one thing to forget the details of a story over time, but one’s stories should not change with each retelling (or due to questioning!).

3. They are not loyal.

If you cannot count on this person to do a simple task for you, to help you out when you truly need it or to complete an assignment on time and with accuracy, this person is probably not the most ethical coworker you have. Which leads us to our next point...

4. They blame their own mistakes on others.

This is never acceptable. Part of being an adult is owning up to your own mistakes. An unethical person will not only refuse to hold themselves accountable, they will blame someone else for their own wrongdoings. This type of unethical behavior may be especially present in group projects; If one person in a group blames others in the group for their own mistakes, rather than admitting their fault, this is a sure red flag.

5. They have a huge ego that is visible to many, if not all.

The most successful people in life do not feel the need to brag about their success to others. A true red flag of character is a person who cannot stop talking themselves up. They are also most likely fabricating or exaggerating the true details of the “success” story. This also leads to their inability to credi others for their input.

6. They hold grudges.

This type of person is incapable of forgiving others, even for the smallest of mistakes. Rather than recognizing someone’s brave act of admitting their wrongdoing, unethical people prefer to hold their mistake against them forever. They do not believe in second chances, because in their minds, they would never need one. 

7. They are incapable of forming a true friendship or professional relationship.

This person is not likely to form an emotional connection with colleagues. This is not to say that you must become best friends with your coworkers, but unethical people are not able to form even the most basic of friendships in the office. They care too much about themselves, their image and ensuring they are liked best by the boss. 

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