Ethical Game of Selling?

If Not, What Game are You Playing?
by Bill Cole MS, MA

   The tennis player volunteers to the opponent that she reached over the net to contact the ball. She loses the point. The golfer calls a penalty stroke against himself for moving the ball. In both these cases, there may be no officials, no spectators. Just the two opponents. No one would know if there was some subtle cheating that took place. No one? You would know if you were the one cheating.
   A golfer is asked if there is a good way to take strokes off his score. He says, "Use an eraser". Everyone in the foursome laughs. Yet people are always observing you and determining if they want to do business with you. Do you pay attention to how ethical your business practices are? Is honesty important to you? This ethical concern and honesty has to come from inside you, from within your very fiber as a human being. It's called having character and integrity.
   As you go through your selling day, consider these five quotations and questions about ethics and honesty:

  • "What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after." Ernest Hemingway.

   Do you believe that? Can it be that simple? Do you know people who sell that way? Are they respected? How do you define morality and ethics in your selling?

  • "You must regulate your life by the standards you admire when you are at your best." John M. Thomas.

   Do you challenge yourself ethically? Do you set high ethical selling standards for yourself? Do you assess your selling behavior from an ethical standpoint on a regular basis?

  • "There is no well-defined boundary between honesty and dishonesty. The frontiers of one blend with the outside limits of the other, and he who attempts to tread this dangerous ground may be sometimes in one domain and sometimes in the other." O. Henry.

   Do you take time to think before treading on dangerous ground that might be considered unethical? Do you know what the people you deal with consider to be solid ethical behavior? Do you consider in advance the reactions of people in your business world who would be perceiving your behavior to be borderline unethical?

  • "I consider the most enviable of titles the character of an honest man." George Washington.

   Do your clients take you at your word? How important is it to you that others view you as a person of honor? Who in history do you admire as a model of ethical behavior? Who currently do you hold as an icon of ethical business conduct to help you guide your daily behavior?

  • "Every man takes care that his neighbor shall not cheat him. But a day comes when he begins to care that he does not cheat his neighbor. Then all goes well." Emerson.

   Do you set the standards for ethical business dealings with your clients, partners and associates? Does it matter to you how well you treat people in business? Do you have the ethical good of the business world and society in your heart as you go about your day?
   My suggestions for becoming an ethical selling professional:

  • Be aware of yourself as an ethical selling professional.
  • Know the code of ethics for your profession, if there is one.
  • Know the standard ethical practices of your industry.
  • Assess your level of ethics on a regular basis.
  • Leverage your honesty as a business advantage.
  • Praise others for their integrity in selling.
  • Seek role models in ethical selling.
  • Become a role model of ethical selling. Make the world a better place ethically because you were in it.