(StatePoint) You may be a nice person, but are you an ethical one?
Sure you greet co-workers at the water cooler and pet the neighbor’s dog, but are you honest and ethical at home and at work — even when nobody is looking?
Turn on the television and you’re faced with stories of businessmen, sports heroes, politicians, movie stars and even those quiet unassuming neighbors caught up in scandals where they behaved unethically and even criminally.
But what about you? Are you a good person?
“Most of us think we know the difference between right and wrong, but often there are things happening around us that distort our perceptions of what right and wrong actually is,” says Robert Hoyk, a clinical psychologist and author of the book, “The Ethical Executive.”
“We can learn from the bad behavior of politicians and Wall Street executives to recognize the causes of unethical behavior and the psychological traps into which we easily can fall,” he adds.
All around us — at work, in our communities and even sometimes at home — there are many psychological traps into which we can fall without even realizing it, leading to unethical behavior, say experts.
Each of us has issues that make us susceptible, points out Hoyk, due to such problems as guilt, competitive drive or low self-esteem. Once you know your weak points, it’s easier to avoid falling prey to unethical behavior.
For example, blindly obeying authority figures can lead you down the wrong path. Just because somebody important in your life — your boss, teacher or parent — tells you to do something doesn’t make it right.
“Good intentions aren’t enough to avoid these traps. You should be aware of those things in your life that can distort your perception of right and wrong,” stresses Hoyk, whose book details 45 traps that exist in daily life. For more details, visit www.theethicalexecutive.com.
How we behave at work can impact how we behave at home. And how we behave when nobody is watching is equally important.
Evaluate your relationships with your colleagues at work, friends and family members. Be sure to offer encouraging words when others around you do well and display ethical behavior. Volunteer in your community or at work to help others who are less fortunate. And teach your kids to follow suit.
“Good ethics should be intertwined with everything we do and who we are,” says Hoyk, who is donating 15 percent of the proceeds of his book to Health Span International Foundation.
The key is recognizing your weaknesses and establishing patterns of ethical behavior moving forward.
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