How to Keep Personal & Professional Ethics Separate

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Ethics come up on a daily basis in life and in business. Our ethics guide us through both our personal and business interactions and help define who we are as people. Ethics are not always straightforward, and things you consider unethical in your personal life may be completely appropriate in a business setting. Keeping personal and professional ethics separate requires you to examine them on a case-by-case basis to do right by your business while not selling out your personal beliefs.

Review the law. If a certain course of action is illegal, it doesn't matter if your professional and personal ethics are conflicting. You should not perform that action.

Consult with a superior at your job if you have an ethical dilemma. Give your superior the details of the moral quandary and be honest about both what is best for business and what your ethical issue is. Your superior can assist you in making the appropriate business decision while keeping your personal ethics separate.

Speak honestly about the issue both with coworkers and with customers. Complete honesty may hinder your business at times, but will help build customer trust and loyalty in the long term. Maintaining honesty will help prevent you from having ethical dilemmas about lying for a personal or business gain.

Determine the likely outcome of your actions from both a business and a personal perspective. If a decision is beneficial to your business and doesn't violate any laws, take that action under most circumstances. If the personal cost is not worth the business gain, leave the situation if possible and get someone else assigned to the project so you are not involved in the end result. This keeps your business and personal feelings separate as much as possible.

Exit a job if your personal ethics are in danger of being violated while there. Find a new professional environment where you can do your job without the risk of breaking any personal code.

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