Recently Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke about having “the courage of our own convictions to speak up.” As she noted, there are “important conversations that we need to have as an American people among ourselves about where we are right now.”
Predictably, she experienced a twitter backlash with the now-famous “Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!”
I’m hoping to start an important conversation with you. After September 11, multiple groups asked me to speak about leadership and ethics. If any of what I write below resonates with you, I’ve value your comments and additions.
Here’s my belief: we make the world we live in. If we fight among ourselves and allow wrong things to happen without speaking out, our silence sanctions much of what happens. Think about the evil that occurred in Nazi Germany as silent citizens turned their heads. Further, if we only talk to those who agree with us, we sing to the choir. We need to actively work together to fix what’s broken. We can’t remain passive bystanders; there is no witness protection when we allow others to tear apart our cultural fabric.
It can be very hard to speak up; you can make someone who sees, feels and things very differently than you angry. You can get clobbered. But in a very real sense, there is not one better than you to voice your opinion. I see it happen in the workplace. An employee can say something to a coworker that gets heard, when the same message voiced by a manager might be discounted.
And if we have to start small, among our friends, that’s okay. Every ethical battle strengthens our ethical muscles. In fact, if we go easy on ourselves on the small things, when we face a real test we’ll find it harder. By being honest and authentic we develop the ethical muscle we’ll need to handle the real challenges we face as a nation and a world.
A former client recently asked me to send her a seven-point ethics yardstick I once wrote. Here it is. I’d love to know your thoughts.
- What is right and good?
- In instances of right versus right, what is the greater right? For example, if someone asks you a question and what you say might hurt her heart, do you tell the truth? Or do you ensure that all your words are kind (even you leave a few thoughts unsaid)?
- Would you be okay with someone else doing what you’re about to do?
- How would an ethical person (an ethical hero/heroine) handle that situation?
- What will happen to your respect for yourself?
- Will saying what you’re about to say or taking that action you’re considering build or erode ethical muscle? After all, there isn’t “a” test and then you’re done. There are harder and easier tests. If you don’t do the right thing when it’s small and easy, you’ll find it harder when you might give up a lot or risk backlash by taking an action.
- How does your contemplated statement or action adhere to the ethical values (such as integrity, trust, honoring commitments, treating everyone with respect) you’ve promised yourself or others to uphold?
I was looking @ this view when I wrote this post; I picked it to head the post as there are mountains to climb, clouds overhead, an a patch of blue in our future.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions.”Curry is President of Communication Works Inc. Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10