Straight and Narrow: How to Display Morality in Tough Situations

Morality is natural when things are going well. Few would be willing to sacrifice their principles when it's easy to defend them, after all. The real test of morality comes when things aren't going well - when the situation gets desperate and sticking to your morals means the possibility of adverse consequences. There are, however, methods of making sure you can display morality even when situations are tough.

Examine Your Morals

Perhaps the best place to start is with an examination of your morals. What is at the core of your moral code and what's merely window dressing? It's often possible to compromise in a situation without giving up on one's principles even if it means taking a minor loss. As long as you stick to those core principles, you don't seem to be taking the easy way out just by compromising.

Be Pragmatic

You also can stick to morals while still being pragmatic. You can be trusting and accepting, for example, while even requiring verifications and references before making an important decision. This is especially true as a manager or employer. Your decision to adhere to a specific code doesn't mean you have to ignore danger and it certainly doesn't say you must turn away from all options that would keep you or your family safe. According to JDP, you or your organization “cannot afford to make a potentially negligent hiring decision.”


Often, displaying morality just means displaying consistency. If you choose to live by a particular code, make sure you present it even when it's detrimental. People will learn to expect this of you and, in turn, will be less likely to push you into situations that require a moral lapse. Your displays of moral character help to establish the boundaries against which others should not drive.

Be Honest

The most important part of displaying morality in tough situations, though, depends on your willingness, to be honest about what's going on. If you find yourself in a desperate situation that challenges your morals, let others know exactly what you are thinking. Rather than seeming stubborn or shortsighted, you will give others a window into your thought processes and allow them a chance to help you avoid a moral problem. Your morality doesn't need to be thrown away just because things are tough. Instead, you should take a pragmatic and open approach to dealing with situations. Stick to your moral foundations but be willing to use real-world tools to back yourself up. With the right attitude, you'll be able to navigate tricky situations and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror.

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