At some point in your professional or personal life, you may face a difficult challenge and wonder whether what you are considering to do or not do is ethical. It can be very difficult to balance multiple points of view and competing demands to come up with an ethical decision. And, in life, we often find ourselves in an ethical gray zone or feel that no one answer is clearly the most ethical.
Below is a set of 12 questions you can work through when you find yourself in difficult situations such as these. Use these questions to help you consider all of the sides of the dilemma and the ethical consequences of what you are considering to do or not do.
1. What are the potential consequences or outcomes of this action or decision?
2. Who will benefit? How and to what extent?
3. Who might suffer? How and to what extent?
4. What is my motivation personally for doing this?
5. What is my motivation for my business or employer for doing this?
6. Is it legal? Or, might there be legal consequences?
7. Would I like to see this on the front page of the newspaper or on the six o’clock television news?
8. Will this increase or decrease my respect for myself?
9. Will this increase or decrease the respect others feel for me?
10. Does his feel right in my body? Does it cause my stomach to tie in knots? Am I losing sleep over it? Do I have clammy hands? Tension headaches? Other physical symptoms that indicate that this doesn’t feel right to me.
11. Does this decision support or damage our business’s culture and values? Would I want this done or said to me? Would I want to be treated this way by another person or by another business?
12. If I told this to the most ethical person I know, what would he or she advise me to do? Would my mentor or hero approve?
For more information about our personal and professional development products, programs, and coaching services, please visit our website at www.bluepencilinstitute.com. — Dr. Laura Hills, President, Blue Pencil Institute