Honesty In Business
Being truthful in what I say and do
To practice Honesty I will:
- tell the truth
- encourage others to be truthful
- not cheat or steal
- admit when I am wrong
- not exaggerate to make things seem different from what they are
“The Honest Truth About Dishonesty”
– Jill Tomey
Why should we even need to write an essay on the importance of Honesty in Business? One would think it is a fairly obvious basic rule but the number of news stories detailing deceptive businesses never seems to end. These stories focus on companies or individuals who make a habit of large-scale fraud. But what about the little lies such as claiming a personal expense as a business expense, exaggerating the effectiveness of a product in a sales pitch, or taking credit for another’s work? According to Dan Ariely, author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, “Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society.”
Ariely looked at what makes people cheat more. His research uncovered a few reasons. If others were cheating in the same way, it increased the likelihood of cheating. If the subject was wearing a knockoff fashion, they were more likely to cheat. If cheating benefited others, cheating increased. Those who were mentally depleted tended to cheat more. While these excuses may explain cheating, it still does not excuse it.
His research also looked at what makes people act more honestly. No matter what the testing circumstances, when subjects were simply reminded of moral codes at the time of decision making it increased the honesty of the answers. While lectures and training on ethics seem to have little to no influence, well-placed reminders of morality had a positive effect on behavior.
Who has not lied about a child’s age to get a cheaper movie ticket? I’m guilty. For me, it was “the sin of omission”. My kids looked much younger so if I did not say anything, ticket sellers assumed the younger age. Everybody does it, so I was okay – right? Wrong! What about the struggling family who could not afford a family movie excursion if they paid full price? Wouldn’t the theater benefit from selling those seats at the discount rather than no sale at all? While that may be true, it is dishonest to make that decision for the theater. It is little things like this that can erode integrity and credibility.
This month, be aware of the small-scale deceptions and exercise your Honesty muscle.
For more information, see The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely.