Ethical Communication in the Workplace

Ethical Communication in the Workplace
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  • 0:03 What Is Communication?
  • 1:07 Communication in Business
  • 2:05 Importance of Ethical…
  • 2:42 Rules for Ethical…
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson, we'll discuss the meaning of ethical communication, typical communication situations in a business environment, examples of unethical communication, and why ethical communication is important in business environments.

What Is Communication?

Fifteen minutes before Suzi leaves work, she receives an email from a client asking for help on a problem. Suzi knows if she responds to that email she will likely be held at work for at least an hour more. She decides to ignore the email and leaves at her normal time. On her way to the employee parking lot, she runs into her boss, who asks if she received the email from the client and if she was able to help the client out. Suzi responds, no, she hasn't seen the email. Her boss says, 'Oh, well, I guess I'll see what I can do to help the client out before I leave today.' What do you think of this situation? Was Suzi's response appropriate? In order to answer that question, we should think about ethical communication.

Communication is simply the exchange of information from one person to another. Communication can take place either orally or in writing. Ethical communication adds to the aspect of ethics, or an understanding of what is right and wrong. So, ethical communication is exchanging information between people in a manner that is truthful and accurate.

Communication in Business

Communication in a business environment can take place in multiple situations:

  • Between employees (also known as peer-to-peer communication)
  • Between managers and their subordinates
  • Between an employee and a customer
  • Between a business and a community

In our example, Suzi flat-out lied about not receiving the email from the client. She was definitely communicating unethically. So telling a lie, or misrepresenting the facts, is one type of unethical communication.

Another type of unethical communication is omitting facts. Let's say a CEO was making a presentation to the Board of Trustees, and in his presentation he paints a rosy picture of the current status of the company but fails to mention the company just lost one of their biggest clients and will struggle over the next year to cover their expenses. This is a rather drastic example, but you can see how not telling stakeholders all of the information they need to make decisions is dishonest.

Importance of Ethical Communication

Communicating ethically sets the stage to build strong relationships in a business situation. Failing to communicate ethically can impact business relationships negatively as it indicates a lack of respect for the person, calls into question one's personal integrity, and makes people question the reliability and credibility of the individual.

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