Ethical dilemmas

Subject: Ethical dilemmas
From: Melissa Hunter-Kilmer <mhunterk -at- BNA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 09:37:11 EST

If I were the only tech writer at my firm -- gee, sometimes I think I am,
since I'm the only one in my department! I have been presented with
situations I felt were unethical, irrational, and illegal at my firm.
(Nothing is going on right now. Everything's been resolved in a
satisfactory manner. This is not a slur on my employer.) This predated
e-mail. There were ways to deal with this stuff back then.

Somebody in a situation like that can talk to a trusted friend outside of
work about this. It doesn't have to be a fellow tech writer; I usually
talk to my husband. And I do mean talk. Don't write, don't send e-mail.
There is a record of it somewhere.

Don't have any friends you trust? Then you're in a pickle in your life,
not just at work. Okay. Make some friends. Start with the list.
Correspond with people privately, off-list, on other topics. Feel them
out. When you want to get to the sensitive stuff, ask if you can call
them on the phone. That's what you might do with your friends, anyway.
Call from home if possible.

<soapbox on>

I think we all have to realize that we take responsibility for our
actions. We shouldn't hide behind anonymous labels even if we can. Part
of the problem with our society is that more and more people are saying,
in effect, "It's not my fault!" I did a bad job because I had just had a
fender-bender and was distracted and it's not my fault; I got in the
fender-bender because I'd just had a fight with my spouse and it's not my
fault; I fought with my spouse because I was exhausted from my job and
it's not my fault; etc. Maybe it isn't your fault, but you've been handed
a situation and you have to deal with it, not dump it on somebody else.
That doesn't solve anything and often makes things much worse.

It's tough if you don't have any peers to talk to. But then you have to
find some other solution, not sending in anonymous postings. We have
enough of those from the silly mosquito-like nitwit on this list.

<soapbox off>

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer
mhunterk -at- bna -dot- com

On 25 Sep 1995, Steve_Jong/Lightbridge* (LIGHTBRIDGE -at- NOTES -dot- CREDTECH -dot- COM)

What would you do if you were presented with a work situation that might be
unethical, irrational, or illegal? I would do a sanity check before acting,
but I have a network of colleagues; what if you were the only technical writer
at a company? I think it's entirely possible that there are people reading
this list who don't have someone they could telephone or meet for lunch, so
posting to TECHWR-L might be a real chance to get advice; but posting by name,
rather than anonymously, might be a daunting prospect.

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