January 29, 2009

If both choices are ethically correct, is it better to be a good businessman and an asshole or a bad businessman and a mensch?

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16 Responses to If both choices are ethically correct, is it better to be a good

  1. Jeff M says:

    My opinion might be skewed because I just watched the ending of The Apartment with Jack Lemmon, but I’ll go with the second option.

  2. initials says:

    Given what’s happened to the economy due to deregulation in the last decade or so? Gimme a break… We’ve got a cadre of “successful” assholes who are also bad businessmen out there right now. Always, always always a good businessman and an asshole. Who cares if people like you if you’ve taken care of the bottom line (and by that I don’t simply mean lining your own pockets).

  3. David says:

    Depends on the business. I think it would be impossible for a person who ran a customer service-related business to be both successful and an asshole, unless it was only to the employees. Of course you qualify the whole thing by saying “if” both choices are ethically correct. But I’m not convinced they are.

  4. Sharon says:

    Depending on how good a businessman, and how much of an asshole. or, to simplify, how much money you might make vs. how fucked your karma will become.

    It is very clear i am in the middle of writing a paper in contract law, I think.

  5. TED says:

    Obviously, it’s better to be a good businessman and an asshole. Unless, of course, you live in some bizarre universe where an asshole is a bad thing.

    It reminds me of all those people who use “slut” as a pejorative. The people in charge of colloquialisms have much to answer for.

  6. EGL says:

    I was always option 2. That’s why I now live with my parents. I hate my life.

  7. In this situation, the good businessman makes a choice that is honest, reasonable, fair, and good for his career, but in doing so he abandons a very loyal colleague to face the consequences of his/her own insane behavior. The bad businessman makes a choice that is honest, reasonable, fair, and not as good for his career (though probably not harmful), but in doing so he doesn’t indicate to his colleague that his/her great effort and extreme dedication over the last several years they’ve worked together have been meaningless.

  8. Jeffrey says:

    Problem with an editor or publisher … or a pimp from the past?

  9. Lynn in Tucson says:

    The latter, karma being what it is.

  10. Naomi says:

    I was going to vote for being a mensch, but on reading your comment, I’m going to say that it depends on how insane the behavior was.

  11. initials says:

    Wow. The situation you sketch is a little different… The principal problem is your use of the word “insane.” It sounds like, even if the business person making a good decision were to try to make socially appropriate ovations, they might not be interpreted as mensch-like by the second party. Overall, stomach-twisting, indeed… And not just for the person labeled insane.

  12. Birdie says:

    I think you already know what to do. What will your heart tell you in five years?

  13. Andrew says:

    Well based on your comment the answer is probably to make the decision that isn’t harmful for your career and doesn’t make you feel like an asshole.

    And then you make sure your colleague knows how insane they were and how you’ve sacrificed for them. That way instead of you feeling guilty, they do. And thats always a plus.

  14. Todd says:

    Dearest Faustus: although you may fiercely desire it, you cannot save someone else from their bad Karma. If someone else has been an inept business-person, you are under no obligation to either that person, nor the karmic balance of the universe to sacrifice your best interest for them.

  15. Ed says:

    Ah, this is quite a dilemma. I will say that in my experience, success in business is about relationships. It is important to treat others well because you never know whether they may hold the key to your future.

    A colleague of mine and I were very treated very badly by someone. A few years later someone innocuously asked us if we knew “X.” We told the story of the treatment we received and as it turns out, X had just applied for a position with this individual’s firm. Needless to say the position wasn’t offered to X.

    At the same time, you are not obligated to save someone from themselves. It is one thing to have used someone. It is another to recognize when it is time to end a professional partnership on fair terms.

  16. KJ says:

    If it makes you feel like an asshole, don’t do it. The other choice apparently offers no detrimental consequences, and you’ve got to be able to look at yourself in the morning, if only to shave.


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