The Morality Workout: Exercises to Be More Ethical
In Donna Hamlin's case, the workshops have helped her identify the kinds of behavior she won't abide. "As a person who has witnessed some pretty corrupt stuff," she says, "I know how hard it can be to say, 'I'm not going to stand for that.' But the more you practice, the better you get." While working as a consultant, Hamlin discovered that an executive was doctoring records. She advised the company's CEO to report the offense to the organization's board; after he refused, she opted to cancel her contract and leave, integrity intact. "Social Fitness Training has changed the way I think about courage," she says. "I've moved from thinking Only heroes have it to I can have it, too."
15 Minutes to a More Moral You
Practice how you'll handle dicey discussions while staying true to your values.
Think of a tough conversation you need to have. Maybe you want to confess to a friend that you haven't kept an important promise or talk to your boss about a colleague who's treating others poorly. Describe the situation in a few sentences.
Jot down the thoughts that come to mind when you think about having this talk—things like: My friend is going to think I'm a liar or If I speak up, I'll get fired for sure.
Question each thought, asking yourself, What's the likelihood this is true? What'sthe evidence? Are my initial thoughts reasonable or exaggerated? Now list potential outcomes that are more realistic.
Come up with a positive statement to encourage yourself as you enter the conversation—such as, "I'm speaking up because I'm committed to being honest." What would you tell a friend who found herself in a similar situation?
Practice the conversation to refine your approach, then go for it! Now that you're amped up and feeling more confident, find your opening and get the discussion rolling.
Elizabeth Svoboda is the author of What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness.