In the early 1900s con men would try to sell parts of the Brooklyn Bridge to immigrants in the USA. This is what coined the phrase, “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you!” Then the Verrazano Narrows bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge formally opened between Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York, in November 1964. Think of this as a chance for a new bridge, one that leads to ethical selling. Would this new bridge serve to avoid any of these early unscrupulous and unethical scammers?
• What does ethics mean to you?
When our actions are congruent with our moral values we behave ethically. Almost every profession has a code of ethics. Become familiar with yours. How often is your behavior in line with this code? That’s a simple test if your profession has a code of ethics. If your profession doesn’t have a code, then ask yourself, when you take action, is the action acceptable and right in regards to all stakeholders – customer, company and self? It seems the early bridge scammers didn’t have a code of ethics.
• Why might good people in a good organization do unethical things?
The image of salespeople, maybe even dating back to before the bridge scammers, is usually filled with less than positive words like – deceiving, pushy, fast talking, exaggerating, and at least a dozen more. For a few years, in teaching an Ethical Leadership program for various organizations, I used the definition of morals as values defined by a higher authority to help an individual decide right versus wrong, good versus bad. Just as with morals and values, you want a higher authority for ethics. If you are in an organization without an ethical code considering referring to the UPSA, United Professional Sales Association, for their Ethical Code of Conduct. In just seven pages long, it has all encompassing principles and guidelines. (At the time this article is published, the link was not working; I’m sorry.)
• Can ethics be as simple as integrity, honesty and responsibility?
Your integrity includes your honesty and moral character. Just like moral concepts vary from one society to another, morals can be different from one profession to another. Values, like honesty and responsibility, are the beliefs or standards that guide our lives in defining importance and worth. Do you present your product and service honestly? Do you act with honesty and in good faith toward all concerned? Would you pass the three questions posed by Nan Demars, You Want Me To Do What? It’s one of several quick ethics tests to refer do when you have doubt or uncertainty about what to do: •Would you want to be treated the same way? •What would my mother say? •How would I feel if this was reported on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper?
The 1970s scammers invaded Florida with swampland scams. It seems the bridge lesson wasn’t learned even with the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. But what about you? What did you learn? What is your responsibility to remain ethical as a seller? “It’s easier to know what is right than to do the right thing.” Can you find an ethical code to guide you to do the right thing?
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