Being Informed about Norms and the PMI Code of Ethics

Posted on March 12, 2010 by


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Norms and customs don’t just vary from country to country, they can vary across neighborhoods and even across departments within an organization. I was told once by a kid from the town next to mine that she could tell which kids were from my town because they liked to wear socks under their sandals. This slight difference in style of dress was a difference in norms.

For example, a guest from Egypt would not put the footrest up on the recliner he was sitting in, because he said that would be disrespectful towards us. And that’s what this ethics standard is about—treating others with respect. The first aspirational Respect standard in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is “3.2.1 We inform ourselves about the norms and customs of others and avoid engaging in behaviors they might consider disrespectful.”

This does not mean we are expected to adopt the norms and customs of others as our own, but it does mean that are some behaviors others will perceive as disrespectful and we should be sensitive to that and take the initiative to learn about them.

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