Beyond Emotion: Using Ethics To Tackle Thorny Issues At Work

ethics in the workplaceThink you know everything there is to know about emotional intelligence? Think again.

Emotional intelligence -- the ability to perceive the emotions of others and control one's own -- has been a buzz phrase among human-resource professionals for more than a decade, as employers have increasingly begun to prize workers' soft skills in addition to their technical and professional acumen.

More recently, in the wake of the recent recession and subsequent layoffs and cutbacks, employers have placed even greater emphasis on employees' emotional intelligence, since workers with a high emotional quotient, or EQ, are more effective decision-makers in stressful situations and can better empathize with colleagues and clients.

A new book suggests, however, that the emotional intelligence is only part of the story. What's also needed, argues author Bruce Weinstein, is ethical intelligence.

Though the ability to discern how others are feeling is important, just as important is how to act on that knowledge, says Weinstein in his new book "Ethical Intelligence: Five Principles For Untangling Your Toughest Problems At Work And Beyond."

Say, for example, two colleagues meet for coffee and one asks the other how she's doing. She may respond by saying, "fine," but a facial expression suggests otherwise. The ability to perceive that something may be amiss is the emotional intelligence part, but whether to ignore the reaction or begin asking questions about what may be going on is a test of someone's perception of right and wrong.

As Weinstein writes in his book: "Emotional intelligence alone won't -- and can't -- tell you what you ought to do. That's because emotional intelligence is a psychological matter, but the question, 'What's the right thing to do?' is an ethical one.

What's needed to be fully human is both emotional and ethical intelligence, says Weinstein, who writes "The Ethics Guy" column for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Beyond developing strong ties with co-workers, Weinstein tells us that ethical intelligence can help employees navigate some of the thornier sides of working life, including working with a difficult boss, managing others and dealing with the modern day challenges of multitasking, being downsized and more.

To that end, Weinstein offers both a series of real-life examples, to help readers exercise their own ethical intelligence, and an ethics quiz to help readers determine their own ethics IQ. He also provides readers a succinct guide to help them tackle tough ethical issues on their own -- what he calls the five principles of ethical intelligence:

  1. Do No Harm
  2. Make Things Better
  3. Respect Others
  4. Be Fair
  5. Be Loving

As the book notes, "being ethically intelligent doesn't just mean knowing what is right; it's also having the courage to do what is right. [It ]may be the most practical form of intelligence there is -- and the most valuable.

In the current era of diminished resources, a good grasp of ethics may not be the only tool workers need to be successful on the job or in life. But it's certainly an increasingly important one.



Next: Sorry Einstein! Emotional Intelligence Trumps High IQ In The Workforce


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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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eyeforeye42

Does your company have an integrity policy? Mine does and every week at the team meeting we are asked if we have any integrity issues. Ethics falls into this category and one need only suggest this and now you have a team of people putting the scrutiny on the boss and management. Does your company have an ombudsman? You can voice your concern external to the bosses and have it on record without your name attached. This really gets attention. Last is do you have a newspaper in town with a critic at large. They are always looking for stories. One might need only ask if this would pass the NY Times test? (If it appeared in the Times would the company be pleased)?

November 22 2011 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pslcitizen

It's either right or wrong...ethics isn't that hard..if it doesn't sound right, then it isn't...

November 22 2011 at 5:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
shiloh1388

The key question for human beings who 'have a job' is--- IS THIS JOB CONTRIBUTING TO THE GOOD OF MY FINANCES AND WORTHWHILE AND CONTRIBUTING FOR OTHER HUMAN BEINGS? If you work for Macy's or Walmart in New Jersey or DC and make 7.30 to $8.00 an hour. Or worse in 'fast food' then you are part of hardee har rich people in your Corporations who may make six or eight million dollars a year. They need to explain why you are not being abused or a slave. But you are. There is nothing to explain. And ofcourse there are about 150 million other shades of gray that is really, really dark in the USA. Meaning workers that are simply being abused. Or you could be a well connected Democrat, single mom, GS13, live in what used to be considered a criminal ghetto in close in suburbs of DC, and work for the Federal Government. But your job is a three to four hour per week joke. And you get paid for forty hours and use your health insurance so you can lose twenty pounds, fix your ugly face, and GO HOLLYWOOD. You too, are in the same class of scum as greedy millionaire managers. Go home, Jesus ain't calling you nowhere.

November 21 2011 at 10:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
svvalkyrie

You'de be looking at a sexual harassment suit.

November 21 2011 at 9:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
olestormy

Be HONEST or no answer at all

Comment:

Religious "FAITH" is a KILLER!!
This country has grown as a Christian nation. The bible has, and still is, used in about every public ceremony we conduct. Nearly all governmental swearing-ins uses a bible as the testament of truth. We see the bible in the funeral services conducted by nearly all the fraternal organizations. I believe it will be a long time before things change, but I do believe they will change.
Science has provided us with provable examples of the creation of the universe and all living things. The Big Bang and evolution should be part of every ones education. When mankind finally accepts the fact that there is no supernatural, loving God out there who has control of everything, we will have to take another look at the religious texts. Religious "Faith" is so powerful that it makes men willing to die. The faithful have been killing one another for over two thousand years. The faithful on both sides in our Civil War thought God was on their side.

Question:

How does your religious "FAITH" affect your decisions?

Larry J. Kluth (Lt.Col. USAF Ret.)
2550 So. Ellsworth Rd. Unit 197
Mesa, AZ. 85209
480-380-1732

November 21 2011 at 8:16 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
dneil55859

Ethics are the most important thing companies should look for. Ethical employees will do the right thing and keep the company out of trouble. However ethical employees can be a pain in the ass.

November 21 2011 at 7:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Bruce Weinstein

Thank you for reviewing my book! I greatly appreciate your interest in my work.

November 21 2011 at 7:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hman570

Wow a new buzz word to use to get yourself a big payday?? There are know ethics at the work place today it is dog-e-dog. You have to be correct in what you say also, and forbid if you pay a compliment to anyone in the office or work place. Sad country we are today.

November 21 2011 at 6:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
uncommonsensesc

Ethics at the work place, huh? Maybe all the staff at Penn State needs to be brushing up on this!

November 21 2011 at 5:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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