We have all been faced with an ethical dilemma in the workplace at one point or another and may not have known exactly how to handle it, so Amy invited Deirdre Breakenridge to join the PR Talk podcast and speak about what ethics are, why you need to define yours, and how to put them into action.

Deirdre is the CEO of Pure Performance Communications and author of seven books, most recently “Answers for Ethical Marketers,” which is part of her “answer” book series for communicators. She also took on a 52+ week research journey and passion project to build a model to address the disconnect in intergenerational communications. More on that later.

If you want to know more about ethical decision making, but don’t know how to address it, you’re in luck. Amy asked Deirdre a slew of questions about ethics, including: how to evaluate ethical behavior in the office, what to do when you’ve made a mistake and much more!

The Frequent Ethical Dilemma

Deirdre tells Amy that the inspiration for her latest book came from the influx of questions fellow communicators were sending her about ethics. The most common questions were:

“What do I do when I feel something’s not right, but don’t want to speak up because I might lose my job?”, “Who holds ethical responsibility in a corporation?” and “How do I tell a peer that they aren’t moving forward with the best judgement?”

In order to answer any of these questions, Deidre says we need to step back, rethink and gain perspective from those we admire. We cannot give into pressure to react too quickly.

But first it might help us to understand how breakdowns in ethical behavior originate. Stress, groupthink and new scenarios that we never imagined would happen are all triggers. Deirdre’s advice under these circumstances is to step back, rethink and gain perspective from those we admire. We cannot give into pressure to react too quickly. 

Deidre’s advice to those faced with values that misalign with just one person is to try moving into a new team or department within the company. If the problem is larger than that, reevaluate if you belong. Don’t compromise your integrity or your reputation as a professional by remaining in an organization that doesn’t act in ways you agree with.

 

Follow the Voice of your Inner GPS

We all have an inner ethics GPS with us at all times. It’s that little voice inside that tells you right from wrong. The classic devil and angel sitting on our shoulders advising us what to do. However, overwhelm and stress can take us away from our values. It takes work, but we need to tap into our gut or “GPS” to be aware of our feelings. Deidre talks about how self care can lead to clarity in our ethics. This can be simply taking deep breaths, doing some yoga or reading a book. Focusing on self care can help you gauge what a situation is and how to handle it.

 

30 Second Value Challenge

Amy and Deidre talked about how professionals should be able to define and share their personal values in 30 seconds. Similar to the elevator pitch that we were taught in college. Keep your values in the forefront of your mind to gut check against work situations. Ethics and values start with you! Before you can follow a company’s ethics, you must follow your own. 

 

Deirdre’s FEEL First Model

Towards the end of the conversation about ethics, Amy wanted to learn about Deirdre’s FEEL first model, which stands for: “Face your Fears, engage with Empathy, use Ethics and good judgment and unleash the Love of your mission across communication channels.” Deidre tells Amy that if you feel first, you will be much more likely to tune into what somebody else is feeling. Communicators prioritize relationships, so put a lens of FEEL at every touchpoint to obtain a much deeper relationship with your customers. Go to feelfirsttest.com to take Deidre’s 32 questions FEEL test to learn what exercises you can do to prioritize feelings and love. 

 

FEEL

Deirdre also wrote a children’s book called “A Whisper from Noelle” which helps parents and their kids explore feelings together. Go to awhisperfromnoelle.com to learn more.

Amy and Deirdre touched on so many other important topics relating to ethics including how to navigate a new job with ethics that oppose your own and what to do when you’ve made an ethical mistake. Don’t miss out on a conversation that could help you protect your integrity and reputation!

 

Don’t Miss an Episode

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About the guest: Deirdre Breakenridge

Deirdre has been a career-long storyteller working with professionals to ignite their communication, lead pressing media conversations, and build relationships resulting in business impact. As a PR and marketing strategist and CEO of Pure Performance Communications, her focus is strategic planning and relationship building that results in business impact. She has launched marketing and PR programs (from Fortune 500 to startups) delivering creative, passionate and bold stories that help brands and their thought leaders to be seen and heard and to build genuine relationships with their stakeholder groups. Her current passion project is the FEEL First model that bridges the communication gap between business leaders and millennials. Check out more of her work at deirdrebreakenridge.com.

Connect and follow Deirdre on social media:

Deirdre Breakenridge on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

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Samantha Custer
Samantha is a freelance contractor at Veracity Marketing and helps streamline PR efforts for our vertical markets. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications and has a great interest in influencer marketing and social media content creation.