Personal and Business Ethics: Why do we misbehave?

What gets in the way of happiness and success? Lots of things. Our ethical foundations and practices are a great place to start.

We misbehave for three reasons: altruism, delicious temptations, and vulnerabilities. 

  1. Altruism
  • “Just helping”
  • Cutting corners
  • Turning a blind eye
  • Hiding the truth for or from others
  • Giving overly generous or false feedback 
  1. Delicious Temptations
*George S May’s Big Four Gurri’s Fifth
·         Greed

·         Speed

·         Laziness

·         Haziness

·         Craziness



  1. Vulnerabilities and Resilience

Internal and external factors contribute to our moral strengths and weaknesses. Resilience is created when a workplace culture faces ethical dilemmas and handles them effectively. No one expects perfection. The challenge is to thrive in the face of change and disruption. The task is to reaffirm and update values and processes. Vulnerabilities include:

 Internal Factors


Feeling States Anger, hunger, desperation, frustration, fatigue
Entitlement “I deserve it” “The rules don’t apply to me”
Culture Internalized family, neighborhood, workplace cultures
Mind Games We can convince ourselves of many things that aren’t so
Bitterness “They owe me”, “It’s not fair”
External Factors


Pressure Social, emotional, financial; being helpful, needed, or important
Opportunity Isolation, privacy, independence
Culture External culture of acceptance in family, community, department, workplace
Financial Financial distress is a terrible pressure, desperation can challenge our values and commitments


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.