When he finds himself in an unpleasant situation, my youngest son proclaims, “I’m outta here!” My wife and I are working with our young and determined three year-old son to differentiate the various sitatuations in which he finds himself and to respond appropriately. There are times when leaving is the appropriate response. Even then, the manner in which we leave the situation should be carefully considered.
Need a Change
Keeping our eyes open to our surroundings is a key factor in understanding and survival. Monitoring the results of decisions enables adjustments to be made, and if necessary, to correct a course of action. We will at some point find ourselves in a bad (unethical) situation as a result of a decision we made, even if we follow our decision framework with the purest of motives.
Responding to a Bad Situation
We will face the challenge of either allowing an unethical situation to continue, being a part of that situation, or leaving. If we have counted the cost of maintaining an ethical stance, then we are better prepared for the next step in the response to a bad situation. Some steps to consider while formulating a plan of action when faced with an ethically challenging situation:
- Reaffirm your commitment to not support a wrong (unethical) decision or situation.
- Evaluate your ability to provide a positive influence with the people involved in the situation.
- Determine the appropriate timing of exiting the situation.
- Identify the best way to leave the situation if influencing change is not possible.
- Attempt to protect or maintain the relationship upon leaving the situation.
- Communicate in a direct and gracious manner, without personal attacks.
In the end, there will be a cost of taking a stand against an unethical situation. In business, the cost of losing a client, losing a promotion, or even losing a job are very likely. The toll on relationships at work and at home can be steep. The lifestyle to which you have become accustomed could be in jeopardy.
We try to avoid unethical situations. We attempt to skirt around unpleasantness. Some day you will face the opportunity to take a stand in a significant and even dramatic way for what is right.
What is truly important to you? What are the things you hold on to that are worth sacrificing all else?