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CONTENT What are Ethics? ..1 What is Ethical communication? ....2-3 Key elements to ethical communication..3 Ethical vs. Unethical Communication.4 How to improve ethical communication..4-5 Bibliography6

What are Ethics? According toStrbiak (1997), Ethics deals with the standards and principles that a single individual lives up to. Alternatively, it studies the standards of groups or societies. Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct (Singer, 1980). The term ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, which means "character". Ethics are theories that address Socrates question of how we ought to live (Strbiak, 1997). As many people agree, ethics is essentially a study of what is wrong and what is right. Though ethics seems to be a simple concept, many people disagree on what is and is not ethical. There are various views on the subject. For example, Immanuel Kant conceived of right action as acting with right intention (Strbiak, 1997). On the other hand, others agree that ethical is what rational people accept for their mutual benefit. In other words, if a reasonable group of people accepts a certain action as ethical, that action in fact is ethical. To complicate the matter even more, many philosophers believe that there is no such thing as universal and moral truth, but rather a set of cultural values instilled on an individual by a given culture and society. Furthermore, a theory called ethical egoism is based on the view that people ought to do what is in their self-interest (Strbiak, C., 1997). Though it is apparent that the question of ethics is a complicated one, ethics and ethical behavior (or communication) has to eventually be applied in the real world. Without examining the philosophical aspects of ethics, most people generally know what is and isnt ethical. In all likelihood, ethical behavior is any action based on right intention (as Kant puts it) coupled with given cultural values of the region. For example, most reasonable people would agree that stealing, lying, and cheating is unethical. Such concepts could easily be translated into an organizational environment. For example, if a company in financial trouble lies to its employees while painting a rosy picture about the organizations future, the behavior will in most cases be considered unethical. Additionally, it would be considered unethical to misguide potential job applicants about the company benefits or stock options. Because lying seems to be a universal concept of unethical conduct, the above examples would probably qualify as an unethical communication. On the other hand, is it unethical to monitor employee email? It is unethical to monitor employee phone conversations? One could argue both ways, because the definition of these actions is not clearly defined. In such case, no one is lying, or cheating, yet over fifty-seven percent of CEOs in corporate America consider such actions unethical (Boss, 2004). It is because of such blurry lines that ethics remains to be an open-ended case.

What is Ethical Communication? Ethics in small groups refers to the moral aspects of group interaction. The National Communication Association (NCA) states: "ethical communication enhances human worth and dignity by fostering truthfulness, fairness, responsibility, personal integrity, and respect for self and other." Thus, ethical communication in small groups takes into account caring and responsibility for oneself and the other group members. Every business is dependent on effective ethical communication. It's what makes new policy in government, raises money for nonprofits and strengthens a business. Business communication occurs any time a message is given or received, whether it's verbal or nonverbal, between two businesses, a business and its employees or a business and the public. The messages sent and received by a business need to follow ethical norms that don't offend or make individuals feel uncomfortable. The National Communication Association (NCA) recently adopted a Credo for Ethical Communication. The following is what was included to promote good ethical communication, although some principles are more applicable than others to small group communication. - Truthfulness, accuracy, honesty, and reason are essential to the integrity of communication. - Endorse freedom of expression, diversity of perspective, and tolerance of dissent to achieve the informed and responsible decision making fundamental to a civil society. - Strive to understand and respect other communicators before evaluating and responding to their messages. - Access to communication resources and opportunities are necessary to fulfill human potential and contribute to the well-being of families, communities, and society. - Promote communication climates of caring and mutual understanding that respect the unique needs and characteristics of individual communicators. - Condemn communication that degrades individuals and humanity through distortion, intolerance, intimidation, coercion, hatred, and violence. - Commit to the courageous expression of personal convictions in pursuit of fairness and justice. - Advocate sharing information, opinions, and feelings when facing significant choices while also respecting privacy and confidentiality. - Unethical communication threatens the quality of all communication and consequently the well-being of individuals and the society in which we live. - Accept responsibility for the short and long-term consequences for our own communication and expect the same of others.

In reading over these principles, you can note the two ethical communication themes are caring and responsibility. Some are obvious, such as: "Promote communication climates of caring and mutual understanding that respect the unique needs and characteristics of individual communicators," and "Accept responsibility for the short- and long-term consequences for our own communication and expect the same of others." Other principles are not as obvious in their representation of these themes, yet the importance of ethics of care and responsibility are still clear. For example, "Access to communication resources and opportunities is necessary to fulfill human potential and contribute to the well-being of families, communities and society," emphasizes an ethic of caring. "Commit to the courageous expression of personal convictions in pursuit of fairness and justice," stresses an ethic of responsibility. Others integrate both caring and responsibility, such as, "Advocate sharing information, opinions, and feelings when facing significant choices while also respecting privacy and confidentiality." In following this last principle, communicators must take responsibility for encouraging all participants to share information, and at the same time, communicators must care for others by respecting others' wishes. These principles also apply to important aspects of effective small group communication, such as teamwork, critical thinking, creativity, and diversity. Thus, ethical communication in small groups means that group members respect and encourage diverse opinions, do not tolerate communication that degrades and harms others, balance the sharing of information with a respect for privacy, and listen for understanding and empathy before evaluating and critiquing. Ethical communication requires effective critical thinking skills, recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives, respect for the well-being of self and others, taking responsibility for individual and group actions, and reflecting on the choices group members make. Key Elements of Ethical Communication All communicationinterpersonal, organizational, small group, mass mediated, political, informational, technical, or commercial, whether delivered orally, electronically, verbally or nonverbally, visually, or through a print medium occurs within a context, including goals, means, and occasion. Ethical communication requires understanding of and responsiveness to each of these three key elements. What one hopes to achieve through the communication (the ends), how one chooses to communicate (the means), and the real-world outcomes (the consequences) of communication are particularly important features of ethical communication (Martin, 2005).

Ethical vs. Unethical communication On the other side of the spectrum, there are those organizations that clearly act in an ethical manner. There are those companies that keep employees informed even though the information presented may be difficult to hear (Noddings, R., 1994). For example, ethical companies communicate the truth about their poor financial status even though concealing the painful truth would be easier. Additionally, ethical organizations trust and respect their employees while insuring that employees have a certain control over decisions affecting them (Boss, 2004). While talking about ethical vs. unethical communication of organizations, one needs to understand that untimely the individuals of the organization are responsible for the organizations ethical standing. If the CEO of a company lies to its stakeholders, it would seem that the organization as a whole is unethical. It is because each employee represents his or hers organization, it is important that all employees are of good morals while it is imperative that the officers or highly visible employees excel in ethical behavior. It is rather difficult to define ethics, let alone discuss ethical vs. unethical behavior. However, because any society needs to be able to distinguish between ethical vs. unethical behavior, a certain set of norms have been formed that help people guide them on the path to morality. Though the set of norms and values are a helpful guide, ethics remain to be discussed because many people disagree on what is and what isnt ethical. Such discussions will inevitably selfperpetuate because of cultural, moral, and individual differences between people after all, we are human. How to improve Ethical Communication In order to improve our ethical communication skills, there are some things that we need to consider. The following are some ways Pearson (2003) said we can make our communication ethical; (1) Spend some time each day quietly reflecting on how we would like to relate to ourselves and others. (2) Remember that all human beings have the same needs. (3) Check our intention to see if we are as interested in others getting their needs met as our own. (4) When asking someone to do something, check first to see if we are making a request or a demand. (5) Instead of saying what we DO NOT want someone to do, say what we DO want the person to do. (6) Instead of saying what we want someone to BE, say what action we would like the person to take that we hope will help the person be that way.

(7) Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone's opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing. (8) Instead of saying No, say what prevents us from saying Yes. (9) If we are feeling upset, think about what need of ours is not being met, and what we could do to meet it, instead of thinking about what is wrong with others or ourselves. (10) Instead of praising someone who did something we like, express our gratitude by telling the person what need of ours that action met.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Boss, J. A. (2004). Ethics for life, Boston: McGraw-Hill. Coretese, A. (1990). Ethnic ethics: The restructuring of moral theory. New York. State University of New York Martin, N. (2005) International Communication, New York. McGraw-Hill Companies. Noddings, N. (1994). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education, Berkeley. University of California Press. Pearson, C. (2003). Human Communication, USA. McGraw-Hill Companies. Singer, P. (1980). Practical ethics. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. Strbiak, C. (1997). The ethics of strategic ambiguity:The Journal of Business Communication , USA. University of Phoenix Press.