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Determining Ethical Behavior in Negotiations

How can negotiators determine and calibrate ethical behavior?

When evaluating whether negotiation strategies and tactics are ethical, begin by assessing the economic, legal, and equitable influences on the decision:

  • Determine the economic outcomes of potential courses of action.
  • Consider the legal requirements that bear on the situation.
  • Assess the ethical obligations to other involved parties regarding what is “right and ‘just and fair”.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the economic, legal, and equitable influences, choose a course of action based upon:

  • the results you expect to achieve;
  • your duty to uphold appropriate rules and principles;
  • the norms, values, and strategy of your organization or community; and
  • your personal convictions.

The following approaches (questions) can be used to gauge whether a course of action is ethical.

    • The Front-Page testHow would I feel if the course of action I am considering were reported on the front page of the local newspaper or blog?
    • Reverse Golden RuleHow would you feel if the party did to you what you are thinking about doing to them; putting yourself in their shoes?
    • Role modelingWould you be proud about other people looking up to you? Would I advise others to do this?
    • Third-party advice – What is the opinion of a neutral third party regarding whether the action is ethical? Do not tell them what side your on.

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