Ethics in business communication
Communication is the process by which individuals exchange information between other individuals or groups of people. Throughout the process, effective communicators try as clearly and accurately to convey their thoughts, intentions and objectives to their receiver.Communication is successful only when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information.In today's business environments, effective communication skills are necessary due to the highly informational and technological era.
Regardless of context, communication involves choice, reflects values, and has consequences. For better communication, understanding the obvious and the subtle issues relating to communication is necessary. Any company that aims to be socially and ethically responsible must make a priority of ethical communication both inside the company and in its interactions with the public. In theory, many consumers prefer to do business with companies they believe are ethical which gives those ethical businesses an advantage in the market. Ethical issues of business communication are one such issue. Some of the vital characteristics of ethical communication are discussed below.
- Conveying the point without offending the audience:
While communicating to the audience, conveying the desired message to them in a significant manner is of primary importance. For instance, the employees in a company can be asked to increase their efficiency in a demanding manner whereas managers and executives will feel offended if the same tone is used on them. There are different ways to explain the exact things to them in a much smoother manner.
- Maintain a relationship with the audience:
Maintaining the same wavelength with the audience is very important for a communicator to ensure the audiences feel at home. Experienced communicators immediately build a relationship based on trust with the audience as soon as they start speaking. Great orators such as Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi always were able to maintain a relationship with their audience because they were masters at striking the same wavelength of the audience.
- Avoid withholding crucial information:
In the modern era, information is vital for all decisions. Hence, it is vital for any organization to be cautious when communicating with the public. The communicated information should be absolute and all vital information must be conveyed appropriately. Purposely withholding crucial information might result in the public conceiving a bad image.
- Well organized value system:
In order to ensure that this concept is successfully practiced and understood in an organization, a well-organized value system must be established throughout the organization by the top management. If an organization functions on the base of value systems common to both the top management and the employees, mutual respect between them will be present. A sound and healthy value system can make way for ethical communication.
- Accuracy of information is necessary:
Any information that is to be passed on must be true and accurate. Communicating without checking the truth of the information can be highly dangerous for the organization. Identification of the source and testing the information is necessary before communicating it.
Ways to overcome ethical dilemma
- Message ahead of the person - Common good approach:
Most people in organization face ethical dilemma when they want to withhold crucial information because of conflict with an individual or a group. In such situations, importance should be given to the message to be communicated and not on the person or the group to which the message is to be communicated. Hence people should give priority to the common good of the organization rather than interpersonal or inter-group conflicts.
- Decisions that produce more good and less harm – Utilitarian approach:
When in ethical dilemma consider the effects of various alternatives after a certain period of time. Ethical decision is to choose the alternative which provides more good and less harm to the organization.
Code of Ethics: The International Association of Business Communicators has developed a code of ethics for business communication.The IABC code of ethics requires business communicators to be truthful and accurate and to personally correct any inaccuracies they have the opportunity to correct. They are also expected to support human rights, such as freedom of speech and to respect and understand the values of different cultures and belief systems. They must refuse to participate in any unethical business communication practices, follow all laws and regulations affecting their industry, avoid plagiarism in communication, maintain confidentiality except when it would be legally or ethically inappropriate to do so, avoid the appearance of bribery or conflict of interest, avoid promising unrealistic results or benefits to clients or customers and practice honesty with both self and others.
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