We might worry that operating in a principled and compassionate way makes us vulnerable—vulnerable to those who are happy to trample others in their quest for success; individuals who don’t care what happens to the people they encounter along the way.
My experience is the opposite…
Living principles of fairness makes us highly sensitized to unfeeling and uncaring behavior in others, to the point where it’s very hard to suppress our reaction to a breach. The strength of our unconscious response seems to keep us safe from exploitation. The challenge is actually to channel the energy of our reaction enough to influence the unenlightened individual intelligently. Arguably, being truly authentic requires us to express our reaction and not just let it go.
What’s your experience? As a principled person, are you more or less resistant to others cutting across what you value?
Are you stronger or weaker?
Brian Canavan says
I had a conversation with a possible competitor or collaborator, depending on what situation we happen to be in, last week which got around to this very topic.
Now, as it happens this chap is starting out up here in Scotland with a new venture similar to mine and I offered to introduce him to some key contacts who may be able to help him. I’ve also shared some business ideas I have had knowing that he has contacts who may be able to help me.
I also let it be known that I tend to let people know that I “would be disappointed” and “take a dim view” of anyone making off with a client, passing off a solution devised by me, or in general act in an unethical or manner not befitting my values.
This may sound all rather “Godfather” inspired but it serves to let people know of the consequences, there goes the Godfather again, before temptation may get in their way.
Sometime prevention is better than cure.
Dr David Fraser says
Thanks for your comment, Brian.
I completely agree.
One of the things I decided after a recent episode, which, as you will guess inspired this little piece, was that I would be better to make my “boundaries” clear up front.
Donal O'Herlihy says
David – this is a really good topic, is very close to my heart and something that I have had a core principle of our Associate business model since we set up 14 years ago. Being principled operates at several levels. In terms of relationships with our Associates, there are two observations I would make. First, in the vast majority of cases, when you provide support to others, they are generally fair and reciprocate (although in the current climate, there is a greater risk of hawkish behaviour). Second, if someone does take advantage and approach one of your customers in an underhand manner, the customers virtually always take a dim view. In my experience, being true, fair and honest definitely pays dividends in the long run. Interestingly, there have been a few cases where I have had problems – these have generally been with people who are used to being hawkish in their business dealings. The challenge for them is that they tend to be deeply suspicious of others who are more ‘open’. They think there is a catch and effectively trip themselves up.
But we also place considerable store in being principled about the work we do. Many of our assignments involve assessing the effectiveness of an organisation, department or activity. Sometimes, we have to inform the client that their “baby’ is not as pretty as they think and they can put considerable pressure on us to change our findings so as to make them look better. If we believe that our assessment is robustly made and is accurate, we will always stand by our view. If we didn’t, what would we stand for?
Dr David Fraser says
Thanks for your comments. Very insightful.
I especially like your point that the hawkish ones tend to be deeply suspicious of the more open ones. That is my experience too.
I agree that if we don’t stand by our principles, we have nothing.