Contemplation: Let’s Talk About Professional Responsibility Vesus Personal Belief

I’d like to suggest that it is almost an absolute certainty that, unless you are self employed, eventually you will encounter some policy or procedure in the organization you work for that you personally disagree.  I say this with quite a bit of confidence just because of my general awareness that hardly anybody ever agrees with everybody else 100% of the time.  This isn’t a bad thing, reasonable disagreement and constructive dialog generally contributes to creating better solutions for more people.  However, when the rules of our profession conflict with our personal beliefs and desires it can create a complicated situation in which we have to balance a need to keep our job with our own sense or moral responsiblity and personal integrity.

I have some suggestions about this and you can choose to take them or leave them (I harbor no illusions that my thoughts will satisfy everybody).  So heare you go:

1). Follow the Rules: First and foremost, if you want to keep you employment then I would say that you have a duty to follow the rules in place.  Even if you think that a certain policy or procedures is the most moronic thing in the world, in agreeing to take on a professional position you have agreed to follow the rules that dictate that position.  If you do not follow the rules then you are truly subject and deserving of any negative consequences that result from disobeying them.  You might hate that, it might get your goat like nothing else. Too bad, this is the way the world works.

2). Consider Alternatives: Few, if any, rules that humans create need to be absolute.  We can always consider alternatives on how to deal with situations and or live our lives.  Any rule can be tweeked or improved on or, eventually, replaced entirely.  When you find something that you disagree with, take some time to consider why you disagree with it and what you think could be done better.  If you cannot do this, if you are just complaining for the sake of complaining do not expect anybody to take you seriously when you say you hate a rule.

3). Speak Up:  This is kind of a follow-up to the previous.  If you truly believe that a policy or procedure is wrong or problematic, then take a stance and speak up about it. I think that this is vitally important, especially considering that so many people seem to be willing to sit back and accept things passively, even when in disagreement. That being said I think we still have some responsibility into how we speak up.  I think we need to come prepared to defend our position.  Just saying “I hate this rule because it is stupid” does neither you, nor anybody else, much benefit.  You need to have clear and reasoned critiques if you hope to be taken seriously.  Have that alternative ready.  If you can only be critical of a rule, but not offer any alternative solutions, then you are not apt to see any changes.  Always always always be respectful and reasonable.  Bombasts who sling insults without any regard for the dignity of others never earn respect from those whom they disagree with.  Just because you have a disagreement does not mean you have a license to be rude or inhumane to another person.  Furthermore, boorish and trollish behavior is more apt to get you in trouble than to encourage any change in rules.  Yes, speak up, but do so with politeness and dignity.  Finally recognize that just because you do speak up that doesn’t mean change is guaranteed.  The other side may disagree with you.  Your idea might not work out in consideration of unforeseen factors.  It just might not be able to happen yet.  This is fine.  Disappointing yes, but still fine.  This is how the world works.  Don’t take this to mean you have to lay down in defeat and can never offer your ideas again (that is ridiculous) it just means that at this time it didn’t work out.

4). Get Out: As a final bit of advice, if you really just can’t get past your disagreement with certain rules or policies or procedures of your organization then do yourself a favor and leave and find something else to do.  I know, I know, “either said than done.”  I agree that just dropping a job and trying to find something new to do is not a small decision and may not be financially possible for all people at any given time.  However, I think that staying too long in a place where you feel like you are constantly confronting matters that stand in stark contrast to your personal beliefs and ideals is going to be toxic and make for you having a very enjoyable life.  So really, getting out might be the thing you need to do.

Look, life is complicated.  There are so many things we need to do, so many places we have to go, and so little time to do any of it.  There are all sorts of things that are going to get on our nerves.  We all have choices in regards to how we respond to the world.  In some situation one reaction may be best, while in another something else might be better.  Worklife, a microcosm of the rest of our life, is no different.  First and foremost I recommend applying some good critical thinking to matters and always trying to maintain being a compassionate person.  Don’t slide into the cynicism of thinking that people suck and are all unreasonable (if you treat all others as unreasonable, then they are apt to be that, simply due to how they are being judged). Instead, consider that most rules, laws, policies, etc. were created with well-meaning intentions.  These intentions might be misguided in your opinion, and the end result might be ineffective and problematic, but try not to assume that it was put in place just to irritate and infuriate you.  Things can always improve and if we apply ourselves in reasonable and well grounded ways we are more likely to see those improvements.  Remember also, patience really is a virtue, nothing moves fast in our complicated world, and expecting immediate results just because you want them is a pinnacle of unreasonable thinking.

I hope some of this might be helpful.  Take it easy y’all.

~ by Nathaniel on August 23, 2012.

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