Ethics, or the principles of right and wrong based on the values in an individual’s beliefs, are not to be confused with law. Ethics exist independently from law, although principles often reflect what laws entail. A listener’s ethical obligation to avoid prejudging a speaker means that a listener should not judge the content of what they are about to hear.
Some morals that can be found in ethical standards include honesty and trustworthiness, truthfulness and loyalty, respect for people and things that do not deserve to be treated poorly, responsibility for one’s actions in a situation (one should always try their best), compassion towards others who are suffering or need support (e.g., donating), acting fairly as one should expect others to act towards them (e.g. in a business transaction), and avoidance of violence (i.e., non-violence) or doing things that hurt others.
A listener’s ethics are their morals or rules they follow when listening to others. These values are based on their beliefs about the world around them, and play an integral role in relationships with other people.
We all have some kind of opinion about people around us, from personal tastes and preferences to general judgements. But this is where we start to blur the line between our opinions and personal opinions about someone else; an objective opinion could be formed for a person if you take into account facts about their situation (e.g. “that person is very nice, but is sadly suffering from a mental illness”).
Some say an objective opinion about someone can be formed through listening to what they have to say. Whether it be their positive qualities or negative qualities, an impartial listener will have the ability to notice these characteristics and more. However, not everyone has these skills, which can lead to difficulties in forming some kind of unbiased opinion about others.
What are listener’s ethics?
Like any other ethical person with ethical opinions about others, you might also have your own personal ethic or rules that you follow when listening to other people (someone’s situation/situation doesn’t change with your ethical opinion). The ethical principles that you have can be found within your beliefs and ideas about what is right and wrong, judging people based on the situation they are in, and general moral judgements.
When listening to someone it is important to remember the objective of your listening. In the example of an impartial listener, the objective is to form an objective opinion without getting biased or influenced by other things that might color how you see that person’s situation.
But who decides if a certain thing is wrong? Some say we should be able to make this decision for ourselves; others say we should let laws decide for us (both political and religious laws, sometimes). However it comes down to personal opinions on whether something is wrong or not.
If something is unethical, it is not necessarily wrong. As mentioned above, many things that are considered unethical might be unethical if determined by a law or legal system, but right and wrong in many different situations can vary between individuals and people’s opinions.
If you are listening to someone who is talking about something that hurts them, it might not be the best idea to try running them over with your car shouting “that’s an abuse of power!” or “I hate all people like that”. This example is a bit extreme, but simply put, the fact that you believe it is your duty to protect someone from pain does not make it ethical .
Be careful when following an objective opinion in this situation because it can cause problems for both sides. After all, it’s the person who is going through the pain who you should show compassion towards. If they want to talk about it with someone they should be able to, no matter what you think about the situation.
For example, if a friend of yours was being abused by their boyfriend and was crying out for help in dealing with their own problems, as an ethical listener you might offer your advice and support. Unlike in the car example above, there is a real person experiencing real pain and hardship. The objective opinion here would be to support them (or anyone else in this situation), and not really judge that boyfriend whom they are currently with (unless some other facts come up about him that might change your mind).
There are several kinds of judgments a listener could make when they follow an objective opinion when listening to someone else. There is the judgment of their situation , what the person is saying, and how the situation is affecting them and others (e.g., “That’s terrible that you had to work in such unhealthy conditions for ten years, but I respect your decision not to speak out about it”).
To summarize, ethical listeners are impartial listeners (listener’s ethics) who listen to other people’s situations, what they have to say, and how the situation is affecting them and others (subjective opinions) without being influenced by other factors that might make it difficult for them to form an objective opinion.