What Is the Role of Ethics in Business Communication?
The role of ethics in business communication is the way in which ethical considerations are applied to business communications. Ethics in business communication may be from the management of the organization to the employees, from the employees to the customers and suppliers, or between the organization as a whole and the outside. In this sense, business communication may be viewed from the internal communications within the business, or it may be viewed from the perspective of the business entity and the outside.
Generally, organizations have methods of communicating with their employees or for disseminating information to them. The communication within an organization may be structured in such a way that the information may flow from the top to the bottom through several channels, such as the human resource department. Ethics in business communication means that the communication between the management and the employees must include the application of ethical standards during communication. For instance, the management must be as clear as possible in the way they deal with their employees by communicating to them the reasons for certain actions and expectations. If the company has declared a large profit, for example, the management must share the bonus in an equitable manner among the various employees or communicate to them the reason for not doing so.
The application of ethics in business communication gives the employees a sense of belonging and it encourages them to be more productive. Management in the organization must also clearly communicate to the employees the type of ethical standards that they must exhibit toward outside entities like customers, suppliers and other classes of people who interact with the business. This includes the type of instruction that the management has given to the employees on the way they must communicate with the customers. Communication in this sense includes what they do and say, or fail to say or reveal to customers.
The use of ambiguous words or the deliberate misrepresentation of the true situation of events is a part of ethics in business communication. Some companies phrase their offers to customers in such a way that the customers do not realize there are hidden catches in the offer. An example of this is the offer of a very low interest rate on a mortgage by a financial lender, without letting the customer understand that the interest rates will go up in the future, or that the repayment terms may be changed by the financial institution.
As was pointed out in your post, “Ethics is an important part of life and running a successful business is no exception to this. To become successful, a business needs to be driven by strong ethical values”.
As digital media becomes popular and necessary in the business world today, these same ethics plays an important role in social media. As the transformation in communication has evolved over the past few years, it has become more apparent not only the challenges we face when utilizing these different arenas for communication, but the potential for deception or intent of misrepresentation.
Therefore, an important role I feel that ethics plays in online sharing and communication is honesty. While most want the freedom of speech and the freedom to use all progressive forms of technology to further their communications and potential for business opportunities, with that freedom also comes certain responsibilities, especially the responsibility of communicating with honest and sincere intent and without intentions of misleading, deception, or manipulation. This freedom and responsibility should always go hand in hand.
Honest and sincere communication should be devoid of any attempt to deceive, manipulate or even mislead through the message provided. These ethical behaviors of honesty and integrity in any process of communication used should be applied. And now with the growing use of digital media (whether personally or for business purposes) every person must be responsible in representing their message and intent to others in this ethical manner. Also, a business must make sure that every associate is representing their organization and communications ethically. Communication ethics should guide us to speak truthfully and without deception or even misrepresentation.
As discussed in the book “Ethics in Human Communication,” “Potential ethical issues are inherent in any instance of communication between humans to the degree that the communication can be judged on right-wrong dimension, that it involves possible significant influence on other humans, and that the communicator consciously chooses specific ends sought and communicative means to achieve those ends” (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008, p. 2). This statement alone shows the need for responsible communications, and even more so online where one does not have the advantage of face-to-face communication to “read” one’s body language or look into their eyes to gauge the truthfulness and intent of their words and message. Therefore, ethics must play a role when communicating so those who receive the messages can have the confidence that there is no intent to mislead, deceive or manipulate, but rather, feel comfortable that a respect for others is apparent and the communication is honest, open, and responsible. In this age of social media, the need for such ethics in an area where dishonesty is easier to achieve becomes increasingly important to apply.
I was a victim of poor business communication once. I applied for a low-cost apartment several years ago. My income was very low and the local government had low-cost apartments for rent that people like me could apply for.
During the application process, no one told me that if my application was refused, I would lose the application fee I paid which was a considerable amount for me at the time. Consequently, my application was not accepted and my money was not refunded. I was extremely upset and literally had a fight with the property managers for not telling me this piece of information.
If I had known that I would lose my fee and that I had a low chance of being accepted, I would definitely not have applied. I lost all trust for that property name and have refused to reside in any of their buildings since. Communication and honesty is really very important.
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