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Ethical Negotiating: Negotiating Ethically

By James L. Greenstone, and Sharon C. Leviton

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Ethical negotiating? Is this the all-time oxymoron? Ethical? Legal? Moral? Ethical v. Legal; Ethical v. Moral; Legal v. moral; moral v. ethical. Can a behavior be ethical and not legal? Legal behavior be legal and not moral? Moral but not legal? Are these separate issues or are they really all the same? How do you know? Why might you need to know? Isn’t everything fair in love, war and negotiations? Can a negotiator be ethical and still be an effective negotiator? Must a negotiator be ethical to be an effective negotiator? How do you arrive at an ethical decision? From where do morals derive? What is the role of the law in society? While this paper cannot begin to answer all of these questions, it will attempt to address some of the issues of ethical behavior and ethical decision making. As well, it is hoped that the unanswered questions will foster additional thought.

Reasoned Deliberation

Ethics may involve morality. They may even involve legalities (Evarts, Greenstone, Et Al, 1984). But without a doubt, ethics is about reasoned deliberation. The ethicist David Isch (2005) says, “The practice of ethics is the systematic reasoned deliberation regarding values and the appropriateness of choices that are made in the every-changing circumstances of personal and organizational life with the goal of fostering a full, good and noble existence.” He continues that, “Ethics is reasoned conversation in a spirit of engagement about values and choices that identifies and analyzes the underlying presuppositions and the features that give rise to the matters under consideration.” Such deliberation may occur while facing legal and or moral concerns or as standalone considerations. Either way, while some might argue that these concepts are the same, ethical action requires that reasoned deliberation take place regardless of the other concerns or the eventual decision (Greenstone, 2009). The International Association of Chiefs of Police (2012) defines ethics as, “…the high standards of personal conduct. It consists of attributes such as honesty, impartiality, trust-worthiness, and abiding laws, regulations and procedures. It includes not abusing the system nor using the position of authority for personal gain; not bending rules or otherwise trying to beat the system by tampering with evidence, slanting reports, providing inaccurate testimony; not engaging in assaultive or violent conduct; and not engaging in illegal or immoral activities, either on or off duty.” This makes ethics a matter of current concern and related to specific situations or specific issues. Such an approach to reasoned deliberation then suggests and proposes some of the following examples when approaching meaningful and effective negotiations (Hartsell and Bernstein, 2008).

Ethical Negotiating: Negotiating Ethically By James L. Greenstone, Ed.D., J.D., DABECI and Sharon C. Leviton, Ph.D., DABECI


Copyright © 2013 James L. Greenstone and Sharon C. Leviton
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (February, 2013)