When life is good, and things are going well it is easy to do the right things. At that point everything you do is working and there are no challenging considerations or hard questions to tackle. It is when life gets hard, work is pressured, and situations are deteriorating that we need to keep a strong focus on our ethics.
I was re-reading my book Everyday Communication Strategies that comes out next week and I was surprised by how much it focuses on ethical approaches to issues management. It has always been important to me, and we need to keep this focus no more than ever. Political events from Partygate to the recent failings, not taking advice and a communication breakdown have all reinforced the needs not just for good communication but for ethical communication.
But few of us spent any time really thinking about our own ethics and values. What really matters to us? What would we do and more importantly what wouldn’t we do?
There are Codes both of Conduct and Ethics that if you are a member of an industry body you are expected to adhere to. When you face a difficult decision where do you turn? Do you look to those codes? Do you speak to a trusted colleague? For many the decision may be forced by something else whether it is pressure from within the business or from outside.
We all need to take some time to reflect and to become more self-aware. We need to know what our ‘line in the sand’ is that we will refuse to cross, and also what we will do if we are being pushed over that line. It is in those dark and difficult moments that our ethics should shine a light and show us the way forward.
Rather than being an abstract concept, ethics needs to be part of our daily lives. It is in what we do, the words we use, the decisions we make and the biases that we carry. It is an issue for today and tomorrow not something to wait until we face a challenge.
*If you are interested Everyday Communication Strategies is published by Kogan Page on 3 November with USA and Canada publication on 23 November.