Checklist of Ethical Standards and Guidelines

Negotiations often raise challenging ethical dilemmas—perhaps more than any other human activity. Some ethical standards are required by law; others are voluntary. Select one or more of the voluntary standards or guidelines before you begin a negotiation. For further information and examples, see Chapter 4, “Decide How to Answer Ethical Questions,” in Negotiating for Success:

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Required by law

  1. No fraud. (Do not lie.)
  2. Uphold your fiduciary duty. (If there is a fiduciary relationship with the other side (such as your responsibilities as an employee), you owe the highest duty of trust and loyalty.
  3. Don’t act in an unconscionable manner. (When you are in a dominant, powerful position, try to reach an agreement that is fair to the other side.)

Voluntary Ethical Standards and Guidelines:

  1. Organizational standards. (If your employer has a Code of Conduct, does it provide standards or guidelines for your negotiations?)
  2. Someone you admire. (What would someone you admire do in your situation?)
  3. Family test. (How would you feel when describing to your family what you did during a negotiation?)
  4. Newspaper test. (How would you feel if a newspaper article in the local paper described what you did during a negotiation?)
  5. Golden Rule. (Treat others as you want to be treated. Keep in mind that fairness is very important to the other side.)