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Ethics is a system of moral principles. Which means that you try to do what is correct.
Ethical communication encompasses being honest in all communications, keeping confidential information confidential, and not discussing the personal or business situations of others in public or in front of a third party.
I recently was looking at website designers at a technology fair. He was discussing the business problems of another person I knew with one of her former employees. I did not consider this to be ethical communication and chose not to do business with him because of it.
Ethics of course is a very important concept for today's world - many people get themselves into all sorts of difficulty by ignoring ethics and doing their own thing. Ethical communication, to my mind, ensures that you communicate all the essential information honestly and openly - you do not attempt to hide or downplay certain facts that might affect the opinion of your audience to what you have to say. You need go no further than the advertising world to see this in action, though arguably there is a very thin line between the truth we are told about products and the actual "truth".
Any speaker, and certainly a public speaker, has an obligation to speak truthfully and accurately. The more public the position, the greater the need for ethical principles. Consider the politician or the preacher who deliberately misleads his constituents. We've had them, of course--think Jim Jones and David Koresh and, well, pick a politician. There are consequences for such misleading or misinformed speech; adhering to ethical and moral principles will help ensure the fewest negative consequences for any speaker. Conversely, there is likely to be positive action and reaction to those who speak from a moral and ethical position.
In business, ethical communication implies keeping privacy of customers and employees. A business should also be honest with his employees and customers. Businesses should not sell products that are unsafe or unhealthy. Nonetheless, many businesses do all of these things. They sell information, or dangerous products.
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