Resolving To Communicate Ethically

Strategically Speaking: A Blog by Denha Media Group

Why not resolve to communicate with ethics, integrity and honesty and surround yourself with people who do the same?

Many professions, including the two I have spent my career in — Journalism and Public Relations — have codes of ethics. There is value in reminding yourself of these codes on a yearly or somewhat regular basis. If you have never read the code of ethics in your profession, it may be a good time to do so.

In life, how we communicate is a reflection of who we are as professionals and human beings. I make a concerted effort to watch and analyze how people communicate in meetings, negotiations and in the media. Sometimes it’s not about what they say but how they say it.

On a regular basis, I make it a priority to maintain my integrity, ethics and trust of my friends, family and clients. I have read both the codes of ethics in the Public Relations and Journalism fields this past year and I will most likely read them again before the year is over.

There are signs to look out for and make note of when communicating with others. Here are a few:

  1. Does the person avoid answering a question? If so, beware. This is something I have experienced and learned as a reporter. I ask many questions and when the answers are vague, the subject changed or the answer has nothing to do with the question, make note. The person may be hiding something.
  2. Does the person avoid eye contact? If so, beware. If he cannot look you in the eye, he may have an underlying issue. Body language is more than 70 percent of our communication. We can assess a person minutes into meeting him or her. Good eye contact means that his or her eyes are steady and direct all throughout the conversation.
  3. Is the person consistent in his or her claims? If not, beware. It is difficult to maintain a lie without continuing with more lies. If this is someone you have an on-going relationship with — be it personal or professional — or have regular contact with, over time you can assess the consistency in his messaging.
  4. Does the person raise her voice? If so, beware. The loudest in the room doesn’t necessarily mean the winner in the room. Sometimes when someone loses her temper or raises her voice, it may be a sign of defense or that she is being evasive or trying to avoid the truth from coming out. She may know she did something wrong and is trying to get you to back off by getting out of control.
  5. Does the person use sarcasm or humor often? This is very tricky. Some people are sarcastic and/or very funny. If this person uses sarcasm and humor often in meetings or daily conversation, he may be trying to put on a show. He wants you to focus on his supposed wit or jovial personality and not the content of his speech. Focus on what he is really saying and not so much on how he is acting.
  6. Does the person make excuses or blame others? If so, beware. We all make excuses from time to time but someone who cannot take responsibility for his own actions when questioned about something may be hiding shortcomings, failures, inadequacies or vulnerability. A person with integrity owns up to his responsibilities.
  7. Does the person hog the spotlight? If so, beware. If someone is not giving credit where credit is due, this is a person you want to be very careful around. She is trying to downplay her own failures and shortcomings. In fact, when someone takes credit for the work of others, we need to make a point to acknowledge the person who deserves the credit and downplay the spotlight hog. This year, you may resolve to focus on always acting with integrity, ethics and honesty and at the same time, surround yourself with people who are making the same effort. If you notice that you are socializing with or doing business with people who show signs of lacking integrity, ethics and honesty, you may want to find ways to limit your contact or sever ties completely. No relationship is worth keeping if it is based on lies and distrust.

Vanessa Denha Garmo is founder of Denha Media Group.

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