Not every unpleasant or challenging conflict with people at work or in a project is disrespectful or bullying – on the contrary. Conflict is a normal part of life and, as you know too well, conflict in projects are normal. So, it’s important to contrast normal work behavior and interaction from workplace disrepsect and bullying.
Here are some helpful examples of reasonable and regular conflicts that take place while working on projects that wouldn’t qualify as disrepectful or bullying unless they also involved some of the behaviors in the definition of "bullying" (see this post for the definition):
- Expressing differences of opinion;
- Offering constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work-related behavior;
- Reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers (i.e., managing performance, taking reasonable disciplinary actions, assigning work);
- Unpopular, yet defensible decisions related to porject management (i.e.resource allocation, solving budget problems, project scope reduction, scheduling decisions which increase workload) ; and
- Project cancellation or delay
The key is to approach each situation with a reasonable, objective perspective in order to properly assess if there is bullying involved. Seek the advice from trusted colleagues or human resources specialists (but best not to ask those within your organization for help until you’ve received credible advice). Use the PMI Ethics tools and the five-step Ethics Decision-Making Framework to assist in evaluating the situation provided on the PMI.org website's Ethics Page