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  • David Watts

The Lost Five Commandments Part 5

Ethical Adversary

Some situations place the expert in an adversarial position with another entity. For instance, as indicated in the scenario # 6 under the subheading “Ethics in Restoration,” you may find yourself facing an entity who has not earned your respect. A natural inclination might be to return the same level of respect that they showed you in the past. Is it ethical to return the mistreatment when faced with that kind of situation?

Remember the difference between morality and ethics – right versus wrong… and right versus right.

The Golden Rule dictates that you treat others the way you wish to be treated. Therefore, ethically, you should provide your services in a fashion that they should be provided to you. This can be challenging – but unethical behavior can affect the reputation of the entire industry. Few things are as important to the restoration industry’s future as the character of the people within it.


Anger and the Ethical Adversary

One of the greatest qualities carried by an effective instructor is passion for their subject.

It is common to see those who are particularly engaged in an intense discussion to start to physically quiver or tremble. Jaws clench. Voices get louder. Selection of words becomes harsher. It is usually an unpleasant experience to endure as a participant, yet it can be both entertaining and dismaying to observe.

An angry exchange can be considered poor form for any professional – but if we are to be honest – it is human to have emotions associated with something that disappoints us or that we disagree with.


Is it unethical to be angry?

Actually – there are times that anger is something that can be both appropriate and beneficial – sometimes even necessary.

If you have a religious background, you can easily recall the many examples of “righteous indignation” and even flat out anger displayed by God’s people. Indeed, the holy books from which many derive their morality (and subsequently their ethics) provide examples encouraging moral outrage when appropriate.

In fact, there are occasions when a failure to be angry is inappropriate. For the purpose of illustration, you should become angry when someone physically attacks you or your family and friends. You should become angry if you observe someone stealing an item. You should become angry if you observe an injustice. This is a normal human reaction and it exists for a reason.

Anger prompts a person to act and motivates change!

The problem is that anger is unpredictable. Sometimes we get angry and respond in a fashion that we later regret. It can take a lifetime to learn how to manage our angry responses intelligently.

Are there times when it is appropriate for a restorer to be angry? Indeed, there are such occasions. However, the delivery of the anger should always be in a manner considered professional. It is never physical.


For instance, a debater who dogmatically and arrogantly refuses to acknowledge evidence or logic is likely to prompt an angry response from an informed individual. On one hand, the “right thing to do” is patiently educate the uninformed, and on the other hand, you are not hired to educate the debaters who presents themselves as the authority and rejects your evidence. It is best to walk away from such a person, when possible, but if the dialogue must continue – then it can be appropriate to use stern words to bring attention to the debater’s unreasonableness and apparent biased advocacy. It can be completely appropriate to declare the debater wrong. However, in the end, observers of such a confrontation can find themselves confused.


An observed injustice (like a mistreated policyholder) can be another example prompting anger. The “right thing to do” is to defend the weak and vulnerable. On the other hand, the “right thing to do” is to stay within the confines of the assigned job; do not put your nose into another person’s business. Many would identify the ethical choice is to help the weak victim. However, getting involved in their defense can have detrimental consequences later on.

In both of these scenarios, anger naturally results, which in turn motivates action. However, the action of confronting a bully or arrogant person might be scary. The anger produces the biological chemistry to give us courage to take the action.

The point made is that anger can be moral, ethical, biological and unpredictable. Anger can be a motivator for both good and bad consequences. The challenge for restorers is learning how and when to allow their anger to become apparent.

The one form of anger that we should always resist is that of revenge. Revenge is a “personal anger” rather than a “moral anger.” Personal anger seeks to harm others – and moral anger seeks to help others. This is an important distinction. Moral anger will help us overcome fear and the temptation to remain silent.

You could compare anger to a blacksmith’s fire. Fire can be enormously destructive when uncontrolled. However, fire can also be a powerful force or tool when it is contained and skillfully directed.

Be sure you identify the source of your anger. Direct the anger toward meaningful change that will benefit the industry rather than destructive purposes.

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