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Business Communication and Ethics

Communication is the lifeblood of human experience. It helps us to develop relationships, understand others and the world we live in. For better communication, understanding the obvious and the subtle issues relating to communication is necessary. Ethical issues of Business communication are one such issue.

When we apply Ethical principles to Business communication we are heading towards progress with the strength of integrity. These principals centre around Fairness Service Quality Integrity Excellence Compassion Honesty and Dignity Activity-Discuss some ethical situations

Goals of Ethical communication

The purpose of business is to make money. Behaving ethically serves that purpose. People prefer doing business with ethical companies, companies they can trust, so in the long run the ethical company benefits from its behaviour. This means that the goal of ethical business communication is to build the trust and credibility of the company. The International Association of Business Communicators maintains that companies that promote the practice of ethical business communication also increase a team feeling among employees and boost employee morale. To accomplish these goals, corporate communication must strive to attain certain specific ethical goals. Honesty- It is to a companys benefit to be honest. Honesty is the basis of trust. If others feel that they can believe what a company says, they will trust it. Other factors being equal, people prefer doing business with a company they can trust. Clarity- Distinguishing fact from opinion is part of a larger goal of being clear and easy to understand. Acknowledging Sources- Few things create as much tension as when someone presents another persons ideas as his own. Employees want credit for their work, so failure to acknowledge them is not only unethical but also bad for morale. (Plagiarism in writing)

Taking Care with Confidential Information- Confidential information is a special class of information that requires special attention. The North Carolina State University business department emphasizes the importance of the ethical business practice of protecting confidential information while complying with public disclosure laws. Any use of confidential information for personal gain is also clearly unethical. Openness to Other Views- Openness is one of the key pillars of ethical communication. In communication, openness means being open to diverse ideas and opinions, as well as being ready to offer your own opinions even if you do not think they will be popular Commitment- In the context of business communications, commitment means allocating the necessary time and resources to discussing issues fully. Only then can there be a chance of having all voices heard. Consensus Building- Ethical communication is goal-oriented rather than status-oriented. The style of communication in which various groups in a business break off into opposing camps and align primarily on the basis of political, status-seeking interests, tends not to accomplish things for the organization as a whole. The style of communication where people seek to build a consensus and focus on doing what they can for the company rather than aiming for professional advancement to positions they are not suited to, tends to be good for the organization.

Corporate Leaders and Managers set a Corporations ethical tone

Leadership and Ethical communication

Clarity- Communication makes everything clear. If a leader tells his staff what he has in mind, how he is going to carry it out, and what each person needs to do to help him achieve this goal, then there is less ambiguity. The less ambiguity there is, the better people can function. Listening- Communication isn't a one-way street. A good leader needs to also understand his subordinates' thoughts, feelings and opinions. In order to do this, he needs to actively listen and engage with his subordinates when they speak to him, take their thoughts on board, and process and respond to them. Ethical Decision-Making- Ethics are ultimately about making decisions. In order to make decisions, people need to have all of the relevant information. If, for example, someone steals or breaks a confidentiality agreement, it is difficult to cast judgment on them before you know precisely why they did it. So, by talking and listening to subordinates, a leader can ensure that everyone has the information they need to keep their decisions ethical, thus strengthening the integrity of the entire organization. Avoiding Poor Ethics- It is possible to be unethical without knowing it. if a leader consistently practices good communication skills, he will encourage his subordinates to come to him when they find an ethical problem, which will ultimately save the organization time and money.

Influences on Personal Ethics

The ethics of an organisation are only as good as the integrity of the people who belong to it. Influential people in your life- parents, teachers, friends Cultural Norms- MK Gandhi, moral stories Philosophical positions eg: Theology, Deontology Laws that govern individual behaviour Your personal religious views All the above shape and form our ethics

Vital Characteristics of Ethical Communication

Conveying the point without offending the audience Maintain an ethical yet friendly relationship with the audience Avoid withholding crucial information Well organized value system Accuracy of information

Key areas for Ethical communication

Personal written and spoken messages Guidelines1. Message purpose 2. Research method 3. Selection of material 4. Development of ideas 5. Use of language 6. Ethical context ( empathy) 7. Self- analysis

Cross Cultural Messages


Cultural context Misunderstandings Language Accountability

Expect Differences- Ethical principles are not the same across cultures. Rather, ethics are culturally informed. "The right thing to do" is not just instinctive in humans. Many aspects of what is "good" are taught (consciously and subconsciously) by a person's culture. So, if you want to establish ethical intercultural communication with people of another background, prepare yourself to see the world differently. Eg: Individualism is well regarded in some cultures and as selfish in some. Exemplify the Universal- Although different cultures will have varying expectations and standards as to what is ethical, there are some ethical standards that are universal. So, by striving to abide by ethical standards that are universally received, you can take the first step in communicating and connecting well with people of another culture.

Learn their Culture- To really communicate well interculturally, you must ask the question: "What makes a 'good' person in your culture?" Talk with people in the target culture to discover the traits of an ethical person. You will find, as you look into someone else's culture, that the things that make a "good" person in your culture are not the same things that comprise a "good" person in every culture. Empathize Through Action- As you learn the ways of another culture, the best way to establish good intercultural communication is to act in a way that is considered ethical in that culture. Do and say the things that will express that you have the best interest of those around you in mind. Willingness to adopt the standards of another culture is the best way to establish ethical and intercultural communication. Global interconnectivity has made intercultural communication critical for any organization. Intercultural communication takes place with people of different cultures discussing and communicating. Businesses intending to operate globally should invest in intercultural training for their staff to enjoy the immense benefits. Effective intercultural communication produces benefits such as employee productivity and teamwork. Intercultural communication also fosters effective leadership in an organization.

Advertising Messages
Tell the Truth, dont misrepresent, and dont manipulate Language to create a false impression Not worth loss of company reputation and customer trust Misleading offers and loopholes in fine print. Food label advertising Media esp TV adverts eg: Fair n lovely, fair n handsome, ads showing certain races, bodytypes in negative light - contd

Guideline/ Questions for advertising

Language Graphics/ print Omission Truth Accountability

Ethics and Organisational Responsibility

Workplaces are a mix of many ethical values; each person brings a personal view of what is ethical How far do we accept the organisational ethics and moral code Formal VS Informal ways of communicating ethics Formal - 1. Public messages 2. Employee manuals and policy statements 3. Mission statements and Ethical codes Informal- 1. Individual ethics 2. Organisations are Social instruments 3. Symbolic acts of managers


Write a page from what you absorbed today, about what ethics you intend to follow in your workplace in the future