It’s not often I face a dilemma I consider to be one of an ethical nature. After all, my lack of arms dealing or trade in fur means that the Co-op was happy to grant me a business bank account with them. I don’t find it a challenge not to hit my stepkids or be faithful to my husband and well, I suppose my life is pretty ordinary. The biggest decision that has touched on ethics in the last few years was choosing not to screen for Downs Syndrome for my unborn child. The Nuchal translucency test merely identifies you as high or low risk (fairly unhelpful) and the subsequent amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling carry a miscarriage risk of up to 1%. Risk killing my baby when I’d never abort on the grounds of it having Downs anyway seemed mad. It was an easy one to call.

I do believe that all is fair in love and war however. I don’t so much have a vendetta list as an awareness that people who have crossed me in the past have something coming to them. Still, I’m pretty passive. Even my ex husband who was pretty rotten to me is, I think getting his due. When I last saw him his career was laughable and he seemed pretty pathetic. I believe in karma to that extent, I believe that if you are nice and assume niceness in others you’ll go further than if you are sceptical and selfish. My ex husband upon reflection is a paranoid narcissist. That doesn’t make for a good partner but nor does it make for a happy life. Sure he did badly by me but for his entire life he’s been doing badly by himself! Frankly I wish him luck when faced with that.

Business is the warzone of the average person and there are a few who have crossed me in that arena as well. But again I see unhappiness and risk. An individual who screwed me on an invoice is undoubtedly doing it to others. I’m the kind of person who after failing to find resolution through legal options had a bit of a rant and a big glass of wine then chalked it up to experience. I’ll let someone else slash her tyres.

My focus tends to be on putting good stuff out there in the hope of getting returns. As someone of zero religious faith it does raise the question of whether I’m making Pascal’s Wager. I hope not given that I think Terry Pratchett beautifully covered the idea in The Hogfather  where a philosopher suggesting it’s worth believing in the gods just in case finds himself upon his death encircled by gods ready to share their views on such existential gambling.

My defence is that I do genuinely believe in karma (inasmuch as I don’t believe in rebirth). Instead I think that we live one life and that our actions endlessly rebound back onto us, after all it is a small world. I believe that each of us is infinitely powerful and largely have the life we deserve.

In reminding myself of this, I’ve talked myself out of doing something potentially good for business but bad for karmic retribution.

What happened was that I saw a copywriter slating a client on a forum. It was very easy to identify the client. Furthermore, the copywriter is someone local to me; my direct competition for business. It would be very easy to direct the (small) business owner to the forum and let them see what their trusted contractor is saying about them.

I feel bad for the copywriters client but not much harm is really being done (although I feel what the copywriter is doing is deeply unprofessional). Clearly this copywriter is a somewhat nasty piece of work (and I’m glad I’ve identified her and can watch my own back around her) but while it was briefly tempting to sink to her level, rat her out and try to steal her client it’s not the person I want to be.

And it could only be bad for karma.

Plenty of people in my professional circle know I’ve had trouble with a local business regarding an unpaid invoice but only two (my accountant and someone who helped my try and chase it) know who it was with. It’s something people know about me, I’m discrete about my negative experiences and focus on the clients, friends and connections I can sing and dance about. Nobody likes those that complain.

In this case the unethical thing to do appealed because it would have been easy. Building a good reputation takes time and it can be tough when you’re up against established figures. But cutting someone else down is the lazy approach. I know I’m nicer and more professional than this individual and by focusing on putting good stuff out there I’m certain that I’ll rise while she’ll undoubtedly be ultimately discredited.

Meanwhile I’ll sleep as well as my baby will let me and look my stepsons in the eye with a clear conscience as I tell them to be nice and assume niceness in others.

Ellie Rowe-Parratt
7/12/2012 08:08:24 pm

Well done for not stooping to her level, I know how tempting that can be. I agree with so much of what you've said in this post - karma; negativity breeding contempt; it being better to sing the praises of those who treat you well - I just wish more people thought the same way!

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