Business ethics

All posts tagged Business ethics

Learning to Quiet the Mind

Published August 13, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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On Monday I disclosed how difficult it was for me to learn how to meditate. Today I reveal the journey that helped me work through the challenges I faced. Once I understood that regular meditation practice would be beneficial in helping me manage my health and well-being, I was ready and open to achieve successful outcomes. Needless to say, although I had a better attitude about this practice, the transformation did not occur overnight. I had to approach this as I did when learning any new behavior, like reading music or playing an instrument. In other words, it was going to take some work, because for me, meditating did not come naturally.

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In my family, we were taught and conditioned to pray regularly. The closest I came then to quieting the mind as a child was when I went inward for prayer. I did not grow up in a culture that taught us how to be still, look inward, and reflect. It was quite the opposite in fact. The environment I grew up in kept us engaged and active. Our caretakers had limited education and wanted a different life for us. As a result, we were kept engaged a variety of activities, in and out of the home. While most kids were out playing with friends, we were given tasks and required to complete them all before we were rewarded with any free time. This included daily school work, Greek lessons, a physical fitness program, plus domestic cleaning and yard work. By the time we were done with our responsibilities, it was time for bed.

We were equally active at church too and joined many organizations to help out. In short, in my family, we were supported and encouraged to keep our bodies and our minds active. I am appreciative of these rewarding experiences because they helped enrich my life in so many ways. What was equally significant, however, was that although I didn’t always appreciate them at the time, many of these activities filled my heart with joy and provided me a sense of accomplishment.

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Once I enrolled at the university to pursue a bachelor’s degree that same level of commitment and dedication to my family and the Greek Community was now driven by the passion of my academic pursuits. In other words, my life didn’t slow down. My lifestyle supported a state of being that kept me active and engaged. This explained why I had such a difficult time quieting the mind to meditate. I lacked experience! The closest I came was in prayer, but even then, I was silently reciting words, so I was never really in a complete state of silence.

The reality was, I could not quiet my mind and focus on the present moment because I was conditioned to keep my mind in an active state. The voice in my head was in constant chatter. In other words, it was natural for my inner voice to remind me how uncomfortable the pillow was in class because it always behaved this way. It was normal that my legs were tickling me now that they had fallen asleep because that’s what happens to my body when I sit crossed-legged for extended periods time. Of course my head got itchy and needed scratching, this was an automatic response. What was not normal was my becoming still to observe it all. In other words, I never slowed down long enough to observe my own behavior. This was new territory!

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The more I focused on keeping quiet, the louder the voice sang, danced, and did everything it could to distract me. My mistake at the time was in keeping silent about how difficult the experience was. Yogi John’s class however, was not a beginner’s class, so many assumed I had experience in this practice. Why else would I have attended? Furthermore, the meditation sessions after yoga class were optional. They were offered as bonus relaxation tools and were not a requirement. The truth of the matter was that a close friend, also a teacher in Yogi John’s classes, invited me to attend. Had this been a beginner’s meditation session, I would have asked for more assistance. The instructors would have offered more guidance and assured me that everything I was experiencing was actually a normal part of the learning process. I discovered this later when I actually attended beginning classes in a small community located in central Virginia called Yogaville. Where better to become more educated about yoga and meditation?

On Friday, I will conclude this discussion before I recess for a short summer break. Until then … stay organized!

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“Happiness is part of who we are. Joy is the feeling.”  —Tony DeLiso

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The Ethics of Heightened Tensions

Published August 4, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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With all the bad news and negative images in the world, it may help explain why many people are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and behave defensively. In addition, most folks are dealing with pressures from work, expectations from colleagues, commitments to loved ones, financial obligations, relationship issues, and so forth. As tensions continue to build, more and more people are unable to operate at full capacity, and in extreme cases, many with low tolerance levels respond quickly with short explosive fuses that can result in destructive and even violent acts.

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People that react from fear and panic, initially respond from a fight or flight state of mind. That is when the reptilian part of the brain takes over which instinctively goes into survival mode. It is from this heightened state that typically many individuals engage in behavior with little or no regard for ethical outcomes. Their only objective in operating from this attitude is a successful outcome. In other words, irrational responses are more likely to occur when decisions are made quickly from an extreme emotional mental state, rather than allowing a moment to think of a situation appropriate response before taking action.

There are exceptions, of course, when life and death situations occur. A split second decision in an emergency may be crucial. Under these conditions taking a moment to think rationally may not be an option. However, in other instances, when pressure is mounting in an individual’s personal or business life, in addition to their feeling that the world is in complete disarray, the sensation of hopelessness can prompt some individuals to behave irrationally; giving in to unethical or destructive behavior.

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It seems logical, that especially during those times when we feel that: (a) the world seems unfair, (b) an escalating amount of respected leaders are caught behaving unreasonably, and (c) more people than not, seem to be engaged in misconduct, that is when we really need to get involved and help make positive changes. Not just in our immediate environment, collectively, we also need to become more cognizant of our contributions as a global family. In other words, take accountability when we make mistakes, bad judgement calls, or hurt others. It also requires that we engage in behavior that reflects mindful, responsible citizenship in our business affairs and home environments.

One way to achieve this is to help cultivate an ethical climate by making conscious choices to conduct ourselves reasonably with common sense and compassion for others. For example, when we encounter people or an institution engaged in unethical behavior like cheating, stealing, lying, or illegal conduct, we are faced with one of three choices: (a) expose the behavior, (b) ignore the behavior, or (c) participate and condone the behavior. If we choose to expose the behavior, we risk being chastised as whistle blowers, but by courageously moving forward we can help achieve ethical outcomes. If we ignore the behavior, we avoid the risk of not fitting in as a player at the corrupted culture and save everyone involved the embarrassment of getting caught. However, by keeping silent, we are helping to enable unethical behavior. If, on the other hand, we choose to condone the behavior, even participate in it, we are not only contributing to an unethical culture, we are gambling that we will not get caught or face the consequences for engaging in misconduct.

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This is where ethics comes into play. In my book, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I explained that individuals who make the best ethical choices do not engage or support strategies that include lying, cheating, stealing, or illegal conduct.  The truth is, most people are not interested in conducting business with others they do not trust. Furthermore, leaders who lack ethics and cultivate a culture of fear are not likely to earn respect from their staff or the community for that matter (Berry, 2013). When individuals, whether in respected positions of power or not, use tactics of intimidation, illegal conduct, misdirection, or get caught in blatant lies, they jeopardize tarnishing their reputation and credibility permanently.

Thich Nhat Hanh (2013) compares all our emotions to weather events—they blow in, remain for a time and move on. He suggests that if we stop all our thinking when these storm fronts of strong emotions develop (and I will add “refraining from verbalizing and directing toxicity towards others” to this list), we can help prevent fueling the fire. Instead, we can choose to apply mindful practices like breathing and walking strategies as coping techniques, that will not only calm down our breath when we are feeling out of control, they also serve to help calm the body and mind (Hanh, 2012).

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The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses and will continue to face many temptations throughout our journey in life. Although it may take only one person to help shift a corrupted culture, it still requires others to follow suit. Taking all this information into consideration can help us understand more clearly why it makes sense that during those times when we are feeling most vulnerable, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions, that including a component of ethics in the decision making process can help us achieve outcomes we are content to live with.

On Wednesday’s post, we will take a closer look at what neuroscience students from Brown University discovered recently about mindful practices. Until then … Have a great week everyone! Be mindful and stay organized!

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” —Mahatma Gandhi

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

The Ethics of Handling Strong Emotions

Published July 28, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair
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Many of us initially learned how to deal with strong emotions in our home environment. Those who had the most influence were the elders and guardians in roles as disciplinarians. As a result, we learned how to deal with strong emotions from the rules they implemented in addition to observing the actions that revealed their own coping skills when it came to handling strong emotions. To put it another way, when we are young, impressionable, and still learning how to navigate the world around us, caretakers that use yelling and screaming as a strategy, for example, teach children that screaming and yelling is an accepted method for handling strong emotions. However, this strategy rarely yields positive outcomes. In fact, it typically leads to the escalation of unmanageable levels of emotion.

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As we grow and process different life changing events, especially those powerful enough to shift our views, our emotions become heightened. In my ebook, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I discuss this further and explain how some situations can produce positive experiences for us, such as promotions, marriages, and the birth of our children; while other experiences can produce negative outcomes, such as abuse, divorce, natural disasters, and so on (Berry, 2013). When families find themselves in a crisis situation where heightened emotions have reached uncontrollable or unmanageable levels, many will seek out additional support from other avenues that can include the clergy, spiritual communities, schools, or other kinds of family support programs. There are a variety of different support systems that can provide beneficial assistance for helping families. Many of them also provide higher levels of education that include training in practices to help support the development of coping skills.

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Ethics also play a big role in helping us handle emotions. For example, to place awareness on ethics in the decision-making process, it is important that we first identify, then transmit with clarity, what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. In addition, we must also articulate clearly, a code of ethics and engage in consistent action when implementing consequences for misbehavior and misconduct. This not only sets the standard, these are instrumental strategies for building and supporting an ethical culture.

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Plum Village Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (2012) asserts that keeping open communication is also an essential component for managing strong emotions. Hanh further explains that there are practices that can be developed to help us handle strong emotions. The key is learning how to perform these practices when we are confident and feeling great, before our emotions are heightened. This is beneficial so that we know how to respond mindfully when we find ourselves in the heat of an emotional turmoil (Hanh, 2012). For instance, during those times when I feel that I am running on a short emotional fuse and am really having difficulty handling strong emotions, coping strategies have become a game changer for me. In other words, once I began incorporating strategies specifically developed to enhance my coping skills, it helped me manage my heightened emotions more effectively which in turn has led to  my feeling more joyful and balanced in my life with fulfilling relationships.

On Wednesday we will take a closer peek at how we can develop and implement our own coping techniques. Until then, stay organized!

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It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. – Albert Einstein
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References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Techniques for Practicing Mindful Awareness

Published July 25, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair
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Many people are under the impression that they don’t have time to practice mindfulness. They feel their day is already so full that they are too busy to fit anything else in. In short, most people think mindfulness is something that is only practiced when they can make time, like they do when they plan a vacation or an outing to enjoy nature. Mindfulness, however, according to Plum Village Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), can be practiced anywhere at any time–at home, at the office, or even during a hectic and busy work day (Hanh, 2012). In other words, we don’t need to set time aside in order to practice mindful awareness; it only takes a few breaths to generate the energy of mindfulness that will bring us back to the present moment.
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When we are centered in the present and let go of thoughts about the past or the future, Hanh refers to this strategy as stopping. The stopping tactic is the strategy that works to bring us back to the present moment, where we can focus energy on our surroundings. The thought behind this tactic is that when we learn to stop everything we are doing, it can help us clear our minds so we can begin to see things more clearly from a new perspective. When we see with clarity, we are in a better position to understand the predicament or situation at hand. This is one way we can cultivate an ethical environment of understanding, compassion, peace, and happiness. In other words, in order to be fully present at our place of work with our colleagues, or personal life with our friends and family, we need to learn the art of stopping. Until we can stop and notice what is happening in the present moment, especially when we are experiencing heightened emotions, it will be difficult to generate joy, awareness, or compassion.
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In his book, Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day, Hanh (2013) reveals how one successful business man has incorporated the practice of mindful awareness into his schedule. The busy executive does this by paying close attention to walking with awareness between business appointments. In other words, he practices mindful walking, placing awareness on his in-and-out breaths as he walks between office buildings at his place of employment. The business exec reports that people who pass him by smile at him because he seems so calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowds rushing by. Furthermore, the business man asserts that his meetings, even with difficult people, have become a lot easier and more pleasant since he started this practice. In a fast-paced world where chaos reigns, the evidence supports that implementing mindful practices like this, can help make the journey on this roller coaster of life more manageable.

Well, that wraps things up for this week. Wishing everyone a great weekend and have fun implementing your own methods of practicing mindful awareness.

References:

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

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“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…”  – Robert Fulghum
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Mindfulness: A Closer Look

Published July 23, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Have you ever heard someone describe people that act without thinking as “being asleep at the wheel?” This is one way to identify individuals that are not mindful of their behavior or actions. In my eBook, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I point out that unlimited power without compassion encourages unlimited corruption (Berry, 2013). In other words, people who are not mindful of their actions or behave without regard for consequences typically find it easier to engage in unethical behavior. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the act of behaving in a conscious manner. Plum Village founder Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), describes mindfulness as the act of bringing one’s full attention to what is happening in the present moment. He suggests that when we bring our minds back to our bodies, we are focused on the present moment (Hanh, 2012).

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Hanh further explains that mindfulness is a kind of energy that helps us to be fully present so that we can live our lives in the here and now. Students at Plum Village for instance, are educated and understand how to work with this energy. Individuals are trained in techniques that will help them focus on mindful awareness as a means to achieve successful outcomes. To begin the process, they learn the practice of in-and-out breathing exercises. What is appealing about this technique, is that in various ways, any one of us can easily engage in these tactics to generate our own energy of mindfulness. For example, when we center our attention on breathing in-and-out, we are focused on the air moving in and out of our body, putting other thoughts aside. Hanh refers to this technique as mindful breathing. Likewise, when we drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee and focus all our attention on nothing else but drinking, he calls this practice mindful drinking. When we walk and focus our awareness on our posture, our breathing, our legs, and the footsteps we take, this technique is called mindful walking. All of these examples illustrate strategies for practicing mindful awareness.

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When we focus our attention first on our breathing, Hanh asserts that we are able to unite the body with the mind, bringing our full attention to the present moment. From there, we can become more aware of everything that’s happening in that moment and observe it with a fresh perspective, without getting caught up in our past experiences or consumed by anxieties about the future. By applying these concepts, we can transform any ordinary behavior into an act of mindfulness, including brushing our hair, washing the dishes, walking the dog, eating, drinking, and even working.

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Incidentally, mindfulness is not just being mindful about positive things either. For example, when joy manifests, we practice mindfulness of joy. When anger manifests, however, we practice mindfulness of anger. Whatever strong emotion it is that arises, if we learn to practice mindfulness of that emotion, in other words, acknowledge it, not suppress or act on it, then transformation can occur which enables us to find more joy, peace, and awareness. These proven strategies have been effective for encouraging ethical behavior with successful outcomes at the Plum Village Community. The good news everyone, is that we don’t have to move to Plum Village to have these experiences. We can also learn how to incorporate mindful behavior to achieve positive changes that can also help us to develop more meaningful relationships. On Friday we will examine some of the techniques to achieve this and find out how one successful corporate executive fit this practice into his schedule. We will also learn more about how we can apply these techniques in our own lives, anywhere, anytime. Until then be mindful and stay organized!

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

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Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler. – Albert Einstein

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When is Lying as a Strategy Ethical?

Published July 18, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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My research on ethical decision making revealed that in order to create and maintain a successful business, leaders must include ethical decision-making as one of the firm’s operational processes. In addition, they must also comprehend and identify potential issues and educate staff members on what defines ethical decisions within the context of the organization. In their book, Business Ethics (2013) Ferrell et al., remind us that more often than not, business leaders automatically assume their staff members will make ethical decisions the same way they do in their home: with family or friends in their inner circle. However, within the construct of an organization or work group, not many people have the freedom to make decisions on ethical issues that are independent of the organization’s parameters. Furthermore, their research also revealed that to help establish an ethical environment, business leaders must also take into consideration the many components involved with the ethical decision-making process, including: (a) ethical issue intensity, (b) individual factors, and (c) organizational components including the corporation’s culture (Ferrell, Ferrell, & Fraedrich, 2013). These are significant elements that can influence the intentions behind decisions which lead to ethical or unethical conduct.

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The media’s recent expose on the VA scandal, for example, revealed that the organization developed a culture that nurtured lying as a strategy. One reason was to ensure certain supervisors would qualify for monetary bonuses. However, this is an industry where implementing the use of lying as a strategy can cause great harm and brings extreme disgrace to their governmental organization, as well as to the public. In fact, the ongoing investigation continues to reveal, that this strategy yielded catastrophic outcomes including the fatalities of many heroic veterans who honorably served their country; veterans that trusted and relied on this government agency to provide them the assistance they desperately required in the healing process. This scandal was yet another horrifying reminder of how the use of lying as a strategy can have dire consequences.

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With all the evidence piling up to support that engaging in a strategy of lying can yield catastrophic outcomes, my research work also included a closer examination of when the use of lying as a strategy is acceptable and see if I could track down any examples to support this position. To answer this, I simply had to look back at my own professional career experiences to confirm that there is only one profession that I know of, in which this strategy is not only used, but is expected as well: magic and illusion.

As an entertainer who spent nearly fifteen years traveling and performing with magicians and illusionists, I can personally vouch that the career of an illusionist is the one profession where the public is happy to embrace the idea of lying as a strategy. Many magicians that choose to pursue this career path do so as a life calling. That was not the case with me. I revealed in my eBook, Ethics in the Real World, (2013), in more detail, how I got involved in this magical industry. The truth is, up until that point, I was focused on pursuing a career as a theatrical stage performer, but got sidetracked along the way when I moved to Los Angeles and infiltrated the music industry by becoming a corporate staff member at Capitol-EMI Records.

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The magic industry was my first experience working in a profession that incorporated lying as a key strategic ingredient for how I was making a living. I had always been perceived by many as a “goodie two-shoes” because I was known for going by the book and following rules to a “tee.” For me, using tactics like misdirection and misinformation was a foreign concept. I had to learn how to think outside the box of what I comprehended was reality. Once I did that, I was in a state of mind more open to embrace different realms of possibilities. In laymen’s terms, I learned how the art of lying and misdirection are used as a strategy to yield positive outcomes.

Stage illusions and the art of magic, once rehearsed and perfected for a live theatrical stage performance, are merely a form of entertainment that incorporates the concept of lying; one that the audience has come to expect. Many people are accepting of this concept because they know the rules of this field before hand (transparency) and have given themselves permission to participate in this world of illusion. The reason for this is because it is one brand of entertainment that can provide the public with a sense of wonder, which in turn stimulates them emotionally. Furthermore, the anticipated payoff for this experience is that the consumer is left feeling positive and transformed from the experience. In a world where competition is fierce and life seems to be a struggle at times, people need and want a place to escape. The entertaining world of stage magic and illusion offers the public an opportunity to experience a different kind of reality – one where the impossible seems possible.

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In summary, my research work on when the use of lying as a strategy can be implemented ethically, led me to conclude that the industry of magic and illusion is one market where consumers have given their permission and expect to participate in the art of deception as a form of escapism and entertainment. In short, my analysis revealed that there is an ideal market for the use of lying as a strategy that can produce positive outcomes. Plus, I discovered there are effective ways to do so ethically: being transparent and choosing a career that reveals to consumers it is all part of an illusion. In other words, implementing this tactic is merely done as a means of entertainment, allowing audience members the opportunity to escape their problems for a little while to enter into a realm where the wonder of magic is real.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone, and keep working on chiseling those organizational management skills!

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We can run a business by placing a lot of emphasis on happiness in addition to placing some emphasis on profit as well. – Thich Nhat Hanh

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References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Ferrell, L., Ferrell, O., & Fraedrich, J. (2013). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (9th ed.). Mason: South-Western.

 

Success in Management and Communication

Published June 9, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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There are two themes that are relevant in the world of communication, learning communication skills to help navigate a successful career and adapting these skills to succeed in a leadership or managerial position. Baack (2012) suggests that leaders with superior communication skills not only gather information, they comprehend and communicate that information in a way that empowers others while earning their respect and loyalty. These are the architects that establish new career models as a framework that can be applied to any industry (Baack, 2012). In other words, these leaders have developed a strong set of principles to guide their interpersonal relationships as well as the communication constructs that motivates them to achieve successful outcomes.

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In my eBook, Breaching Communication Barriers (2013), I reveal how communication problems in the workplace can become hostile and toxic as well as the role employees play in tearing down a company’s reputation (Berry, 2013). In the meantime, employees that communicate a positive view of their organization are also happy to offer their loyalty to a firm. For example, Southwest Airlines, (SWA) one of America’s success stories, provides an ideal example of how effective communication played an integral role in helping them build a successful business model. Herb Kelleher, the firm’s leader, worked hard with his employees to build and maintain a reputation influenced by his management style which included the following concepts: (a) revealing the company’s purpose, vision and values, (b) making people heroes, (c) being honest and consistent with communication, (d) maintaining a flow of open communication between all divisions, and (e) providing staff members with applicable information to help them make the most effective decisions.

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While many leaders focus their strategies by keeping the customer happy, the SWA leader focused his model on keeping the employees happy. He believed this was the most effect method to succeed in the aviation industry because employees that are content and valued at the workplace are also motivated to perform at higher levels.

On Wednesday we will take a closer look at the similarities and differences in business and management communication. Until then … keep working on reaching your highest potential!

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A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem. – Albert Einstein

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References:

Baack, D. (2012). Management Communication. San Diego, CA, USA: Bridgepoint Education.

Berry, M. A. (2013). Breaching Communication Barriers (Vol. 2). (C. Angela, Ed.) USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.