Abiding by The Golden Rule:
Treating Others the Way You Want to be Treated is Still Sound Business
By Carla Perrotta
It may sound trite, but the golden rule still makes a lot of personal and business sense. There is nothing wrong with treating other people the way you want to be treated, In fact, there is everything right about treating people ethically. Character and competence are so intertwined that it is impossible to have one without the other.
Making ethical decisions is not always easy in the context of economic, professional and social values. There are no moral absolutes, no firm black and white decisions, but rather tons of gray areas. Often, these core principles collide and conflict with each other. For instance, when in the effort to be honest and open with each other we can be hurtful.
There are a number of rationalizations that can cause our personal behavior to get out alignment with the core ethical values. See if any of these statements hit too close to home:
- If its necessary, its ethical
- If its legal, its OK
- I was just doing it for you
- I had to fight fire with fire
- It doesnt hurt anyone
- Everyones doing it
- Its OK if I dont gain personally
- Ive got it coming
- I can still be objective.
At the heart of the character question are personal and professional ethics. Personal ethics are standards of how we should behave based on certain core principles of right and wrong.
According to the Josephson Institute, a firm specializing in ethical management, the six core values include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
These core values help provide the roadmap by which we can plot our daily activities, a lens through which we view the world and a standard by which we can make decisions.
Trustworthiness. This trait is made up of honesty, which is the ability to be truthful, sincere and candid in our relationships. Other facets of trustworthiness include integrity, reliability, and loyalty.
Respect. This value is comprised of treating others with civility, courtesy, and decency, It also commands us to give others the autonomy they need to make their own decisions and the tolerance to accept the differences in other people. At its core, respect means honoring the essential worth and dignity of the individual.
Responsibility. The third of the fundamental truths means taking accountability for our actions. It means the tireless pursuit of excellence and continuous improvement. This character trait urges self-restraint, diligence, and preparation. Notice, it doesnt say anything about winning.
Thats not to say that winning is not important. But winning often comes at a cost that compromises our personal effectiveness. As Alabamas legendary coach Paul Bear Bryant said, Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.
Fairness. The fourth principle is grounded in the traits of equality, impartiality and not blowing things out of proportion. It is a character trait of perspective. That means being open to new ideas, new people and change. Importantly, it means not being judgmental in our dealings with other people.
Caring. This is the true north of the ethical compass, according to the institute. It therefore may be one of the most difficult traits to practice because it is far easier to care about humanity than it is to care about the individual. It is all about being concerned about the welfare of others and being empathetic towards them. That means trying to put ourselves in their shoes to more fully understand their point of view.
Citizenship. The final of the character pillars, citizenship carries with it the responsibility of staying informed and know and obeying the laws and responsibilities of the country, of the family and friends, and of the organization we work for and belong to.
The process of making ethical decisions has at its root the concern about what is right to do, not what you have the right to do.
Following is a guide to help an individual or a group to make sound ethical decisions:
- Gather the facts. The process begins by understanding the problem, the options and the solutions.
- Understand the ethical dimension. You should then define the ethical issues and weed out the unethical options. Better yet, you could evaluate ethical alternatives, ranking them according to individual commitment, consciousness and competency. Unfortunately, this step is often neglected.
- Identify the various stakeholders involved.
- Think through the consequences of each solution in terms of what will happen as a result of the decision.
- Identify the obligations and rights of those potentially affected. You can play the what if game. That is, know how the decision would impact those people or institutions you will encounter.
- Walk in the other persons shoes. It is important to ask yourself how you would feel if friends or family found out how they made the decision.
Remember, we judge ourselves by our best intentions. We are judged by our last worst act.
Carla Perotta has 22 years in the healthcare staffing industry and is now responsible for all business operations related to Kelly Healthcare Resources, a business unit of staffing provider Kelly Services Inc., based in Troy, Mich. Kelly Healthcare Resources provides healthcare staffing solutions to hospitals, clinics, businesses, healthcare facilities, insurance companies, HMOs and clinical research organizations. For more information, visit www.kellyhealthcare.com.