Communicating ethically in your business all of the time can be a struggle. Sometimes, you may find it easier or advantageous to say nothing rather than to tell the truth. However, ethical communication in your business means being truthful and upfront and saying what needs to be said, even when that is difficult. Fabricating false information is clearly unethical, but so, too, is exaggerating or omitting important information that others need to know.
Ethical professional communication is based on upon care and respect for others. Everyone deserves to be respected in your business, regardless of the individual’s job, socioeconomic status, gender, race, age, or other characteristics. Communicate with your clients, partners, co-workers, boss, and other stakeholders in ways that demonstrate that respect. And, do not tolerate communication from others that degrades individuals and humanity through the expression of intolerance and hatred.
Career professionals who practice ethical communication also support others as they share information, opinions, and feelings. Be a person who supports diversity of perspective and freedom of expression in your business and profession. Believe wholeheartedly that unethical communication threatens the wellbeing of others and the integrity of all communication in your business. Be a thoughtful listener and keep an open mind to those around you.
Badmouthing your business or any of the individuals who are affiliated with it is unethical communication. Even after work hours, you need to be very careful about what you say about your employer, co-workers, client, and boss, and to whom. Avoid negative communication about your workplace in a public place where your conversation may be overheard. The most ethical behavior is to keep your thoughts to yourself or to address important matters directly with the individuals involved, at appropriate times, in an appropriate place, and in appropriate ways.
Finally, ethical professional communication relies upon your ability to keep confidences. Once you have agreed to work in a business or profession, you have also agreed to abide by that business’s or profession’s policies and procedures for maintaining confidentiality. Breaching these rules, except with prior and appropriate permission and under very special circumstances, is unethical communication and carries with it severe consequences. You have an ethical duty not only to keep things confidential by not sharing them wrongfully, but also, to safeguard confidentiality by making sure you’re not overheard and keeping documents from wandering eyes. Be very careful when handling confidential documents or computer files to ensure that others without need do not have access to the information. Close doors, keep your voice low, and do whatever else you must do to ensure confidentiality.