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When Good People Do Bad Things at Work

There are different kinds of individuals across the globe and they all have diverse cultures, personalities, and behaviors. Every person could have a dissimilar perception of what leads a good individual to be caught in bad behavior. This may baffle some people as to how a calm and friendly person may engage in a grievous crime. When people believe that an individual is nice and ethical, they are shocked to find that such a person was found fiddling with their expenditures, in abuse of power, or evading taxes (Arli & Leo, 2017). Lack of ethics even in a single situation may be detrimental to one’s career. The best way to avoid being involved in wrongdoing is to be ready for arising challenges and, at times, confrontations that test one’s values, moral conviction, and dedication to undertaking the right thing.

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In some cases, wrong things are done by people who may be perceived as respectable workers, leaders, or managers. For example, Moberg (1999) affirms that representatives at Lincoln Savings and Loan stole a huge amount of money from their clients’ retirement benefits. Moreover, there are accounts of the deception that the management of Brown and Williamson Tobacco issued concerning the addictive force of cigarettes and the organization’s consequent campaign to ruin the reputation of the whistle-blower. One of the reasons behind good people engaging in bad things at work is that they might fail to understand that the issue at hand has a moral aspect behind it and is not just a monetary, marketing, or another form of problem. In such cases, they cannot assess the issue from an ethical standpoint.

Without knowledge, good people sometimes overlook the difference between an ethical and wrong action, which may result in their involvement in bad behavior at work. The sensitivity of wrong actions should emanate from childhood when parents have a major role in shaping their children’s character. This will make such people cautious of unethical behaviors and will not engage in them at work unawares (Moberg, 1999). If a parent finds a child stealing a valueless item for the first time and decides to ignore it, such an action could eventually make a good person become a bad individual.

The third reason behind a good individual becoming bad may be well articulated by the understanding of the slippery slope influence. A person may decide to cheat in the beginning slightly and if they get away with it, they may not realize it as the habit of telling lies develops gradually to a point of even engaging in serious deception at work. Thoughts that the mistakes are not a big deal because they will be fixed in a short while may occur at first before the problem becomes too big to fix (Arli & Leo, 2017). Therefore, a small slip-up may fail to get noticed at the beginning but over time its harm could be impossible to rectify. People should always endeavor to do good things because it all begins with a bad approach to doing a good thing to eventually engage in unethical behavior.

There are diverse kinds of people around the world and they all have varied cultures, traits, and actions. The best means of evading involvement in misconduct is choosing not to overlook even the slightest mistake irrespective of whether others justify it. Therefore, one should be prepared to address arising challenges or opposition that test one’s ethics, moral principle, and devotion to undertaking the right thing.


Arli, D., & Leo, C. (2017). Why do good people do bad things? The effect of ethical ideology, guilt proneness, and self-control on consumer ethics. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 29(5), 1055-1078. Web.

Moberg, D. J. (1999). When good people do bad things at work. Issues in Ethics, 10(2), 1-5.

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