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Personal ethics refers to a person's beliefs about what's right and wrong and guides individuals in the decisions they make both in and out of the workplace. Your unique ethics will determine how you handle certain situations at work as well as how you grow and develop within your career. Here we explore what personal ethics are, why they are important, the difference between personal and professional ethics, and common examples of personal ethical principles.
Personal ethics are ethical principles that a person uses when making decisions and behaving in both personal and professional settings. These ethics influence various aspects of a person’s life and help individuals develop their work ethic, personal and professional goals, and values. Individuals use their ethics to determine between right and wrong and influence how someone behaves in challenging situations. Each person’s code of ethics varies, but many people share common ethics such as honesty and respect.
A person’s personal ethical principles are important for several reasons, including that they:
There are a few key differences between personal and professional ethics. The primary difference is that a personal set of ethics refers to an individual’s beliefs and values in any area of life, while professional ethics refers to a person’s values within the workplace.
An example of a personal code of ethics is as follows: A person chooses to return a wallet that they found on the ground to lost and found rather than keep it for themselves due to their personal ethic of honesty. In the workplace, an example of professional ethics would be the same person returns a wallet to their coworker due to a code of conduct rule of no stealing.
Some people differentiate personal and professional ethics by viewing a personal ethical system as a personal moral code or a person’s conscience, while professional ethics are viewed as a set code of conduct that must be adhered to in the workplace.
The following are examples of a few of the most common personal ethics shared by many professionals:
Many people view honesty as an important ethic. This ethic transfers from an individual’s personal life into their professional life and ensures they are truthful in all scenarios.
Loyalty is another common personal ethic that many professionals share. People who have a personal ethic of loyalty demonstrate trustworthiness and fidelity in all of their dealings and can be trusted by others to maintain their loyal behavior no matter the situation.
Integrity refers to a person’s commitment to upholding their moral principles in any situation and is an important component of trustworthy and sound relationships both in and out of the workplace. People with integrity are reliable, responsible, and hold themselves accountable for their actions.
People with sound personal ethics demonstrate respect for those around them both at work and in their personal lives. They respect others’ autonomy, rights, and interests, and do not discriminate based on someone’s religion, sex, or race.
People who are selfless put others first and do not act in selfish or self-serving ways. They consider the needs and situations of others and prioritize these needs before their own.
Someone with a strong moral code is willing to take responsibility for their actions and make changes or amends when necessary.
The following are steps you can take to identify your unique personal ethical beliefs so you can improve upon them and demonstrate them in your daily life: