How many times has a client or vendor asked you to step outside the lines? Provide them under the table with a resource or service, discount your own services or ask for extra considerations that simply weren't "kosher?"
I've written about this for years. I never understood when I was young how or why I had this resistance, reluctance that I came to refer to as I developed my work in ethics over the past thirty years as "The Inner Bottom Line"® that just didn't allow me to not say no or to cross certain boundaries under any circumstance. As I see it, call it your gut, your instinct, your conscience, it's what makes you say no when someone tries to compromise your ethics or values by asking you to behave badly, disrespectfully or dishonestly.
I was reminded of all this when recently, I hired a photographer to shoot a new listing. She was talented and wonderful to work with and when we were finishing up, I thanked her warmly for doing such a good job. She said she appreciated my response and then confided that not everyone she met on location everyone treated her with the same respect that I had; that she loved working for her boss, but that on a number of occasions, she'd been asked to provide her services on the side, rather than going through the company she worked for. And as if that wasn't enough, to do all of this at a discount. It was evident she was not only deeply uncomfortable at being asked to participate in or enable underhanded or unscrupulous behavior but also personally hurt and not quite sure why.
I suggested that situations like this involve, among other things, the basic ethical value of respect. Whenever we are asked to ignore or cross our basic boundaries and provide our know-how or talent for less or "on the side;" whenever we're asked to compromise our professional services by discounting our commission or convince one of our valued service providers to go along and "do a favor," we're being disrespected. And trivialized. Or, if we do it to others, we're disrespecting them. It's that simple. And that complicated. And that's not only not acceptable, it's also insulting. And not smart. Or ethical or wise. So next time, there's only one thing to say to a request like that: "Don't ask me to step outside the lines. Because when I do, I compromise myself and I deserve much more than that."