The Fourth Aspirational Respect Standard in the PMI Code of Ethics

Posted on February 15, 2010 by


Be Altitude: Respect Yourself

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This last week we’ve discussed much on the Honesty section of the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct but now we switch attention to the Respect section. The Respect standards are divided into aspirational and mandatory standards. The fourth aspirational Respect standard is: “3.2.4 We conduct ourselves in a professional manner, even when it is not reciprocated.”

Professionalism is one of the topics we discuss in our Working with People course here at TAPUniversity. Although people tend to know who is professional, it is often hard to explain. In course discussions, we often receive descriptions such as dressing neatly and refraining from offensive language. In looking through various definitions of the word, most are unhelpful because they simply refer to someone being in a given occupation, so a professional project manager may or may not behave professionally. Even more confusing, some definitions imply that professionals are only those in certain occupations involving higher education, so that a professional maid could not possibly be a professional. The most applicable definition I found was “Conforming to the standards of a profession: professional behavior” ( The PMI Code of Ethics is a standard for the project management profession, so the behavior described therein, such as treating others with respect, can contribute to our understanding of what professionalism means for a project manager.

This standard indicates that professionalism is the rule, even “when it is not reciprocated.” Yes, it can be difficult to treat people with courtesy when they are rude, etc. but it is not an excuse for unprofessionalism and not worth damaging one’s professional reputation. Please feel free to share your views with us on what it means for a project manager to behave professionally.

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