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Ethical Behavior in the Workplace

Aug 17, 2007
Many believe that ethical behavior is some abstract term that sounds nice and looks good on paper, but are confused as to what being ethical really means in the workplace. What if someone told you that everything you need to know about ethical behavior, you learned in kindergarten?

That's right, ethics - or the guidelines of conduct followed in the workplace - were taught to you at a very young age. Practicing ethical behavior is important to you because it can grow a business, promote teamwork among coworkers, and build confidence and trust in each other. Now let's refresh our memories on what being ethical means.

One of the first things your kindergarten teacher probably taught you was to be honest. Behaviors such as, cheating or lying, were considered wrong and could land you in the time-out corner. Practicing honesty by following through on your promises and remaining loyal to your beliefs, can build a solid and respectable reputation in the workplace.

An equally important behavior that was repeatedly emphasized was treating others with respect - i.e. - the "Golden Rule" - regardless of sex, age, or other differences. Being respectful towards supervisors, coworkers, and customers promotes an environment of tolerance and openness that is the perfect breeding ground for establishing employee and customer satisfaction and loyalty.

But where would honesty and respect get you without responsibility? Responsibility means taking your duties seriously enough to always perform and give at your highest level of performance. If a task seems difficult, don't give up - find the answer or help you need to complete the work. You are the person who is ultimately responsible for the quality of work you do; take and accept responsibility for your decisions.

How many times did you hear, "Wait your turn!" or "Share!" in kindergarten? Probably too many times to count. Working as part of team in the workplace can be challenging because you have to be open-minded and listen to the opinions of others. But by being fair and reasonable to the positions and views of others is a great way to build a reputation of balanced equity in the workplace.

Lastly, these ethical behaviors would mean very little without developing the caring attitude to match them. Infusing your coworker and customer interactions with compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude, is essential to creating mutually respectable relationships that will prosper.

Ethical behavior in the workplace isn't a myth; the capacity to practice honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness, and compassion has existed in each of us since we were taught these values in kindergarten. If you haven't already, tap into those memories to be on your way to becoming the best person you can be in your career.
About the Author
Cathy Warschaw, Director of the Warschaw Learning Institute provides an online multicultural dental front office course, HIPAA, telephone training and eBooks on team building, managerial, customer service, and marketing at www.WarschawLearningInstitute.com 2006
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