Drug testing

The Three Schools of Business Ethics

G. Richard Shell, author of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People, identifies three primary schools of ethics in negotiation. To me, they are equally valuable in examining ethics in the context of business in general.

1. The Poker School - "It's a Game"

To poker players, business is a game and anything that can be done to gain advantage within the rules of the game (generally speaking, the laws of the land), is fair and just. If you love negotiating "gambits" (lowballing, goodcop/bad cop, red herrings, nibbling, etc.), and sales "tactics" (101 effective closing techniques, 30 tricks to getting past the gatekeeper,etc.) you may well belong to this school.

2. The Idealist School - "Do the right thing, even if it hurts."

To the idealist, there is no seperation between business in life. If you would not lie to your loved ones, you do not lie to your clients. If it's OK to tell a "white lie" to protect the feelings of a friend or prevent a tragedy, it's OK to tell a "white lie" to protect a corporate ally or prevent a business tragedy. While two idealists may differ in the specific set of rules they live by, they share the rigidity of doing what they believe to be "right", even when it seems contrary to their business goals.

3. The Pragmatist School - "What goes around, comes around."

The behaviour of a pragmatist may be inseperable from that of an idealist,but the motivation is different. While the idealist tells the truth and treats people fairly because it's "the right thing to do", the pragmatist tells the truth and treats people fairly because they believe it is the most effective way of getting things done. However, they will not hesitate to use deception as a necessary tool in pursuing their aims. Because pragmatists value their reputation (being seen to be honest), they will tend towards "misleading" statements over outright lies.

There are also combinations of these schools. "Pragmatic idealists" dothe right thing because of their ideals but are not above pushing the envelope of truth when the pressure is on and the chips are high; "pragmatic poker players" tend not to bluff in order to evolve their reputation as trustworthy, but will take advantage of that reputation when it really counts. "Idealistic poker players" are those among us who recognise business as a game, fully expect everyone around them to do their best to lie and cheat, but will only involve themselves in games they believe they can win by doing the "right" thing.

Possibly the most important thing to realise is that not everyone plays by your rules. Your being honest does not ensure others will be honest with you; similarly, your willingness to lie, cheat, and bend the rules does not mean the people you are doing with will do the same.

Here are a few things you can do to put these theories of business ethics into practice:

1. If you haven't already, identify what "school" you belong to. Remember,your motivation is as important an indication of your ethics as your actions.

2. Identify at least one person that you know or have read about that seems to embody each of the three primary and three secondary schools of ethics. Once again, be aware that knowing someone's actions without understanding their motivation will not necessarily reveal their ethical bent.

3. Discuss this tip with friends, and see what else you can discover that will enable you to be who you are while dealing ever-more effectively with others.

Have fun, learn heaps, and remember - a good poker player will inevitably tell you they're an idealist!

Michael Neill is a licensed Master Trainer of NLP and has written over 450 articles on in the areas of business success, money, relationships, health, happiness, well-being, and spirituality. His weekly coaching column is reprinted in newspapers and magazines throughout the world, and can be found online at http://www.geniuscatalyst.com

limousine chicago service
In The News:

Top 10 Principles for Positive Business Ethics

This morning, I read about a company using on-line auctions... Read More

The Three Schools of Business Ethics

G. Richard Shell, author of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies... Read More

Minding Your Global Manners

To say that today's business environment is becoming increasingly more... Read More

The Only Thing You Get for Free in Life is Hungry!

My grandfather was a very wise man. Simple but wise.... Read More

Business Ethics

There is much talk today about ethics in business -... Read More

No Credit is Due: Bad Telemarketing

Just a few minutes ago I was debating what to... Read More

Mind Your Own Damn Business Sexcess

You have certainly heard the expression "mind your own damn... Read More

Enron?s Ultimate Victim: Ethics

FROM the 'MORAL HIGH GROUND', where we imagine ourselves, the... Read More

Financial Projections in Business Plans

One of the most difficult sections to write in a... Read More

Business Ethics: An Oxymoron?

Why do I believe good PR and business ethics are... Read More

Ethics? How To Take the Measure Business

When asked to write a small piece pertaining to ethics... Read More

The Social Implications of Computing

Directed by Mark Harrison, "Visions of Heaven and Hell" is... Read More

Ethics in Business - Please Have Some

Is your business ethical?What I mean is "Does your business... Read More

The Armaments Industry and Holy (?) Roman Emperors

"The time for fixing every essential right on a legal... Read More

Laws and Ethics?. Who?s Kidding Who?

Years ago I read an article by a renowned psychologist... Read More

Selling Truth as a Differentiator

The last few years have been a period of heightened... Read More

The Everyday Business Ethics Crisis Or Im Mad as Hell and Not Going to Take it Anymore

Breaking news may feature the Enron debacle, WorldCom activities, or... Read More

MacDonalidisation: Braverman, Taylor & Mayo

Background: George Ritzer defined McDonaldization as "...the process by which... Read More

Ethics In The Workplace

Workplace Ethics is a subject that we have all heard... Read More

Are You Selling Out Your Integrity?

Integrity in business is a quality that is highly under-rated... Read More

Six Reasons to Give

If you run a business, you undoubtedly feel many pressures... Read More

Business Ethics: An Oxymoron

An oxymoron: the juxtaposition of contradictory words or concepts. That... Read More

Business Ethics: The Law of Corporate Karma

According to the shamanic traditions, the great mystery of being... Read More


I know that diversity has been a big topic of... Read More

The Views of Karl Marx VS Max Weber

Compare and contrast the views of Karl Marx and Max... Read More