Monthly Archives: August 2021

36. The Conscience Code

Richard Shell, who teaches negotiation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, is our guest in this episode. His new book, just published this summer, is The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values, Advance Your Career. It addresses challenging moral issues that arise in negotiation and in leadership, as well.

What do we owe others (and why) in regard to fairness, honesty, and the possible use of pressure tactics?

We dug deep into those questions. For example, the three of us discussed what we should do if we’re looking to buy a lovely vacation cabin, and its elderly owner has significantly underpriced the property. Should we snap it up, bargain for an even better price, or inform the owner that the price is too low?

In the leadership context we spoke about the delicate dance of simultaneously exerting authority and power, while being respectful and empathetic with people we lead.

In both settings, Richard emphasized the importance of anticipating tough choices, rather than grappling with them on the fly. He also offered a core principle for making hard decisions. Before acting, always ask yourself, “What would a person of conscience do?”

PS: As it happens, Mike recently posted two related articles on related issues on Jazz of Negotiation: “Fair Enough?” and ”Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.” If you’re curious, take a look and see how your ethical code compares with how Jazz readers responded.