Conflicts on the Clock

Resolving Dilemmas of Conscience at Work

My friend Smita (name changed) refuses to write brochures and marketing material for companies because she feels uncomfortable “bending the truth.”

It’s common knowledge that brochures sometimes misrepresent product features, but she won’t write brochures at all, even though it pays well. She’d rather struggle and earn much less writing freelance articles, than go against her value system. To me, she’s a great example of how you can find God in the choices you make at work. Ironically, she’s an atheist.

Integrity in the moment of choice
Most of us spend eight hours a day at work. We deal with people, we make decisions, and we do the tasks that are assigned to us. Our work is not different from our everyday lives; it is a part of our lives.

Sometimes our work requires us to do something in conflict with our value systems. How we resolve those conflicts defines us.

In their book First Things First, Stephen Covey, Roger Merrill, and Rebecca Merrill talk about ‘integrity in the moment of choice.’

We have a choice—to listen to the voice of our values, our conscience, or to ignore it. If we ignore the inner voice and act contrary to it, we turn away from the God that is inside us. When we listen to that voice, we come closer to God.

Promoted to what?
I had to make a difficult choice a year ago. I was offered a promotion to a higher-paying and higher visibility job. The problem was that I’d have to be involved in product marketing. Marketing, as you know, means that sometimes you have to tell prospective clients what they want to hear (wink, wink) rather than how things really are.

I refused the promotion. There were other reasons as well, but mainly, I just didn’t want to be put in situations that made me uncomfortable. I think it was the right decision, but only time will tell.

It’s not easy to make the right choice. Sometimes you might not even have a choice. The threat of not getting your raise, of losing your job, your responsibilities to your family—these realities might lead you to choices that you may not like.

Jesus on the job?
My friend Gauri is a good-natured, kind, and warm person. However, at work, she was mostly unhappy, and she finally resigned last week. Oddly enough, she’s been much happier at work since resigning.

Gauri goes to the Infant Jesus Church every Thursday to pray, though she’s a Hindu. Sometimes she talks about how “her Jesus” will take care of her, but admits that wasn’t able to use that strength to make the right choices at work.

She mentions an incident where she was asked to report problems that employees were facing to the head office. She chose not to report certain issues, because it would negatively impact her relationship with her boss, who would’ve taken some flak.

In retrospect, she feels she’s learned from her experiences and hopes that she’ll make better choices in her next job.

A good night’s sleep
I’d be lying if I said that I always made the right choices at work. Sometimes I loathe the choices that I’ve had to make. Mostly though, work-related issues aren’t keeping me awake at night.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d take a good night’s sleep over tossing and turning any day.