At a recent speaking engagement on business ethics, one of the 100 or so participants voiced a differing opinion to my discussion revolving around whether or not you would tell a client, or prospect, that you had heard something negative about a competitor of yours who was being asked to bid on the same project you were.

There was absolutely no way that they would not find a way to tell the client or prospect that they'd heard something bad about their competitor, all under the guise that they were looking to protect THEM. Even if their knowledge was not from having had a direct experience with them, they were still adamant that their client/prospect should be told.

While this could have been completely true, that's not how someone would or could look at it, from the other side. Although I'd gone through the process with them, mentioned a number of reasons why it's not wise, and even gave them a response that wouldn't be considered a 'lie' on their part, it was all to no avail. They were looking too closely from an emotional position instead of trying to see someone else's side, even how they might look to the client or prospect.

Not long after returning from the conference, I was speaking to one of the event organizers who called to let me know that she had just mailed me copies of the 70+ evaluations they'd received in response to my presentation. She indicated that they were all very positive (or almost all of them), and that she wanted to schedule a time for us to discuss the next years' event and program.

When I received the evaluations I wasn't at all surprised to see one that was negative. I looked at their evaluation objectively to see if I could in any way improve my presentation, or the delivery, to better communicate the most positive and ethical response in any situation such as this, and to help attendees make the best, most ethical decision to a similar dilemma.

What I learned from this situation is that we shouldn't expect that everyone is willing or able to act as ethically as possible, or will always understand both sides of a situation. It's something we really have to work at, all the time. It also doesn't mean this person is unethical, just unknowledgeable and perhaps too emotional. For all we know they may never have faced this type of situation, or they let their emotions be their guide when faced with ethical challenges and their results have never yet yielded a negative result.

That may change as time passes and she grows her business, or she may have negatively impacted the way this client/prospect looks at her, without her ever knowing. In the long run, it's always best to take the 'high road', and not take a chance that you will be looked upon unfavorably. Your reputation is so important to the health and well being of your business. Don't take a chance!

We do things for our physical well-being all the time. We eat right, get plenty of sleep and exercise, or we at least know to try. However, most of us don't think to do anything regularly for our moral well-being.

I look at ethics in this way; it takes constant reflection, being open to alternatives, removing any emotions from the equation, and doing what's right, not easiest, in order to make the most ethical decision. I hope you'll incorporate some time into making better decisions to ethical situations as they arise. It's a great investment in your business.

Author's Bio: 

Jeannine Clontz, IVAA CVA, MVA, EthicsChecked™, provides marketing and social media support, training and consulting to busy entrepreneurs. For information about finding a VA, download her FREE 10-Step Guide to Finding the Right VA, or to learn why Social Media should be an important part of your marketing plan with her FREE Report, Social Media Marketing Benefits, visit:, or contact her at