Ethical consideration

Learning objective: Ethical consideration within a communication situation demonstrated by the ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate at least one ethical dilemma or scenario related to communication and advocate a specific course of action.

I love studying ethical decision making.

It’s weird, I know.

In my professor daydreams, my dream course to teach is Ethical Communication to MBA students.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to tie my business background with my love of discursive ethics outside of my daydreams by writing a research paper for COM616, Communicating Mindfully with Dr. Pupchek.

My paper was titled “An Ethical Model for Employee Communication.” In the paper, I used research and content analysis to introduced an ethical model for employees to use when making decisions.

The model includes four questions that situate an employee’s decision in the ethical realms of self, organization, and culture:

Ethical model for employee communication:

  1. Did the employee’s communications protect and promote the values of the organization? (Question adapted from concepts in Arnett et al., 2009.)
  2. Did the employee’s communicative behaviors violate the values of the employee? (Question adapted from concepts in Paul and Strbiak, 1997.)
  3. Are the employee’s values congruent with the values of the organization of which he or she is a part of? (Question adapted from concepts in Nicotera and Cushman, 1992.)
  4. Are the values of the organization congruent with the values of the current culture? (Question adapted from concepts of Nicotera and Cushman, 1992.)

In the paper, I used the model to evaluate the ethics of a scene from ABC Network’s “The Goldberg’s” sitcom. I analyzed a scene involving one of the main characters in a salesman role and determined that the character’s actions were considered ethical because they agreed with both his values and the values of the store; his values were congruent with the values of the store; and the store’s values were congruent with the broader values held by the United States at the time of the scene (the 80s). The ethical model proved useful in my analysis.

In addition to ethical decision making, this course has also improved my ability to communicate mindfully. I remember listening to a raisin (yes, you read that correctly) as part of a guided meditation exercise for COM616, Communicating Mindfully with Dr. Pupchek.

That experience spoke to me and taught me to slow down and listen to my environment and to pay more attention to how I am interacting with the world around me.

Dr. Nathaniel’s closing admonition to her COM601, Communication Fluency class was to “be kind.” To me, those two words underscore the lessons on mindfulness and communicative ethics I learned during this program.



  • Arnett, R. C., Fritz, J. H., & Bell, L. M. (2009). Communication ethics literacy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • Nicotera, A., & Cushman, D. P. (1992). Organizational ethics: A within-organization view. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 20(4), 437-462.
  • Paul, J., & Strbiak, C. A. (1997). The ethics of strategic ambiguity. Journal of Business Communication, 34(2), 149-159.
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