Tips for Ethical Communications

With the ability to seek accurate information merely a click away, people are more tuned in than ever to ethical and authentic communications. Organizations across the spectrum must not only create solid messages, but also consider the appropriate way to deliver these messages to reach those critical to their success. At its heart, ethical communications is truthful, authentic and transparent. It is about developing and nurturing relationships that span cultures, channels and circumstances. It hinges on thoughtful decision-making and responsible thinking that are aligned with personal values. Kind of a tall order, to be sure, but absolutely not insurmountable. When we think about what doesn’t feel ethical to us, we typically are taken aback by one of three things in the communications we have received.
  • We perceive it to be untruthful in some way. Frequently, we can tell the difference between a casual slip-up and a concerted effort to mislead or outright deceive but it is getting more and more difficult to know who to trust these days. And while we might forgive the former, we very rarely can overlook the later.
  • We recognize that it is a violation of confidentiality. Exposing the details of an ongoing criminal investigation or revealing particulars of a tricky personnel situation are both examples of confidential information that can and should not be discussed prematurely or in some instances, ever. When these types of intimate details are shared, we can get very uncomfortable.
  • We find the communication offensive. Something that is said or done goes against what we hold to be important about race, gender, sexual identity, income level, education, background or religion. Stories and especially jokes have the biggest potential to go sideways in this manner.
  So what are some of the hallmarks of ethical communications? First and foremost, ethical communications are fact-based and truthful. Yes, that sort of goes without saying but there still are those who insist on telling falsehoods and half-truths in an attempt to get their way. But wouldn’t it be better if instead you provide the detail and information necessary to help people understand what you are saying? Ethical communications are clear and compassionate. Author and speaker Brene Brown maintains, “Clear is kind” in her book Dare to Lead. When you tiptoe around an issue rather than addressing it head-on in a kind and compassionate way, you typically make things worse – and for longer. Ethical communications demonstrate an understanding of not only your audience but also the way in which the content is delivered to it. Both the “what” and the “how” of what you have to say are important. Make sure that your dissemination method is aligned with your message. Are you struggling to develop your messages? Do you worry that your authentic core is not being accurately presented? Call us and we can talk through your concerns.