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Work Etiquette versus Moral Integrity – A discussion!

When your morals, and that displayed at your place of employment differ significantly you may find yourself in a dilemma that will make you look at things a little differently!

I have always, gone with my gut when choosing my clients for the most part.  Even if I am desperately needing a new project, if one comes along that just doesn’t seem right I turn it down.

I took on a project once that involved dealing with people who had moral standards that I questioned on a regular basis.  I did not know that this would be the case before I accepted the project.

The company came along highly recommended by the leaving contractor, as did the company team members that I would be working with.  The reason that the contractor was leaving was because of family obligations they did not allow enough time for the time the project was taking…I found this out to be not true.  That aside, I found a lot that I was told about the team and other contractors to be untrue as well.

I cannot say I am the most moral person in the world. I must definitely have faults.  I do not go to church, and I have lied to people in the past and sometimes I have bad thoughts.  However, I have always felt that I have a level of professionalism that has worked well for myself and for my clients.  When I was a much younger person I worked as a “gopher” at a local newspaper.  As a gopher, you are the one person that gets yelled at if you do not show up with the right copy before deadline or for anything else that is late.  I learnt very quickly, that you do not take anything personally on deadline day at a newspaper!  The following day, everyone that yelled at me would come and tell me that they really appreciated my hard work.  I have took those feelings with me and know for the most part that anything negative that anyone says to you at work is not personal and is probably coming from their own insecurities, challenges and stress of the day.  Letting them get to you brings you one step closer to being them.  

Work and personal morals are extraordinarily different.

Stress, deadlines, challenges, money, targets, failure, unorganized….are all things that cause people in a work scenario to become insecure, angry and then unprofessional.  Your personal morals, a lot of the time, are what help you handle situations professionally.

I recently read a great article/report by Susan Scheller Arsht..”This is how work life should be”:  Quality Connections, Positive Relationships, and Positive Organization Climate.  If you are experiencing challenges in the work place environment, reading this report would benefit you greatly.  To me the title says it all…and the key words are “POSITIVE” and “QUALITY”. 

Wikipedia definition —- “Work etiquette is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace.  This code is put in place to enable people to respect and protect time, people and processes”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_etiquette



In the world of telecommuting things are quite a bit different.  

Telecommuting creates its own list of challenges when it comes to work etiquette.  It can be tough to read into what people are saying at the end of phone or video call.  They could be saying one thing and actually mean something completely different.  Sadly the same goes for you too…if you are the contractor you sometimes have to pick your words carefully.  Your client may not always be wanting to hear the truth and you may not be willing to disclose it.

Investing in the product, the company, the people…

Telecommuting can also create what I call “false” friendships.  If you have never met someone that you are working with there can sometimes be no real investment in the working relationship.  This is particularly true if you have no common interests.  I have learnt that it is a good idea to get invested in the company you are contracting for.  Use their products if possible in a personal landscape, and learn to embrace their dynamic.  Those team members that you do have personal similarities with are slightly different, as you take a step forward with them and become more than just being work colleagues.  I am still in contact with some of the friends I made through working on projects, mainly because I met with them in their office on a regular basis and had common hobbies and interests.  The others have sadly, quietly disappeared from my LinkedIn news feed.  


The point of today’s blog is to discuss what you should do when you are already working on a project, and find that your clients moral standard and professional etiquette differs drastically to your own.

1.  You can quit!  Walk away and not have to deal with it.
2.  You continue to work on the project whilst suggesting alternatives to the different standards/rules that seem to be set.
3.  You continue to work and suck it up and deal with it.

Firstly, I am not a quitter.  Once I took the project I on, I did level 3 for quite a while, and then just couldn’t do it any more.  My name was going on the bottom of emails that I didn’t agree with, that I felt were just rude and unprofessional.  I moved up to level two, my ideas for changing the way things were done were listened too (I believe) and then were ignored and if not ignored were sometimes described as silly (I am using a polite word here). My frustration for not being taken seriously was increasing but I remained the professional and calmly just did as I was asked.



Finally level 1…I am no longer working on the project.  It started off with basic things that really did not feel right in my gut, like not responding to emails if the company did not want to work with someone who had approached them, to one of the partners screaming at me over a conference call for an error that he had created.  Honestly, not responding to the emails never felt right to me..both morally speaking and that it was bad business sense.  You never know if in the future that person may be working at a company that you do want to do business with.…and I mean how much time does it take to send a quick message back.  The screaming session was the final straw that broke the donkeys back!  There was a lot that happened in between these two examples but I wanted to describe how not following good work etiquette can cause a “this doesn’t feel right” situation to a “I need out situation”.

This is probably a burnt bridge…as I would never want to work with any of the staff/contractors at that company again, but generally speaking burning bridges just does not work for me…yes sometimes those bridges fall into dis-repair because you do not maintain them…but never should you take a flame thrower and burn it to the ground.  Even when the business owner, has been totally disrespectful, and downright rude to you, never burn that bridge.  His assistant might remember your level of professionalism and contact you at a later date from a different company.

The not responding to emails, was just the beginning of what I now consider to be a life lesson. Sadly, you may not know at the onset of a project that it is not going to work out, but speak out when you see things going array!   

Lets get back to that word…POSITIVE!  I will say that this has been the only project that I have found myself wanting to jump and run.  Everyone else that I have worked with in the past have for the most part, been professional, morally upright people.  My friends say that I am the forever optimist and that I always view life and work with a positive outlook.  I always look for the silver lining, I always find something positive and I always learn something new from every challenge that life puts in front of me.  

What did I learn?

  1. Go with what I feel is right, and let your client know if what you are being asked to do falls outside of the ballpark for you.
  2. I choose to only work with companies and individuals that have a moral levels that meet or exceed both my personal moral standards, and the standards I have set for myself within a working environment, both virtually and physically in an office.
  3. Finally, never suck it up and deal with it…

So, go forth and work hard, earn great respect and money and conquer the world!


I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and welcome your comments!  Please follow the blog and share with your colleagues if you think it will benefit them.

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