Ethics Revisited

The last time I wrote an extended post on ethics was in 2012. My feelings on the subject haven’t changed too much, though I suppose instead of a “top ten” list of reminders for technical writers I might simplify that list a bit. Bottom line: ethics are integral to what you do; and if you do not have a habit of behaving ethically, you will also find yourself in a long stretch of unemployment.

The Short List

Ethics aren’t too complicated if you’re committed to behaving honestly with yourself and others. My short list of ethical reminders runs something like this:

  • Tell the truth in your content and in your business dealings with others.
  • Don’t share truths (contents) with people who shouldn’t know about them.
  • Keep your promises and obey the laws and legal agreements related to your work.
  • Admit your mistakes and inform others if an ethical conflict has arisen.
  • Be willing to report ethical failings “up the chain” at your organization until the situation is addressed…or through outside law enforcement if the organization will not address it.

You cannot necessarily change the behavior of others, but you can govern your own behavior. Being polite and good at your job are important, but if you don’t start from a willingness to do the right thing, the rest of it won’t really matter.

Let’s be careful out there.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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