Face Down Ethical Issues

Author: Gloria Lau

Are you a lawyer who bills clients for an extra few minutes here and there? Do you promise things to customers you don't intend to provide? Or would you give one employee a bigger raise than someone else more deserving because the former is your best friend?

"When confronted with a dilemma, most of us like to think we'd stand up for our principles, but we're not nearly as ethical as we think we are," Ann Tenbrunsel, University of Notre Dame business professor, told IBD. She recently co-wrote "Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do About It."

When it comes to grasping the right course, take action:

Recognize ethical illusions. Say you have a meeting to negotiate a major deal coming up.

Beforehand, write down what you consider acceptable behavior, Tenbrunsel says.

After the meeting, compare your early notes to what you really let happen. What are the three things you did wrong and should have changed? What are three that could have been perceived as a lie by the other party? "People often think they'll behave more ethically than they do," she said.

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