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Overload, Overwhelm, and a Yelling Client (Bullying) | Video

Overload, Overwhelm, and a Yelling Client (Bullying) | Video

Three issues in one video: overload, overwhelm, and yelling clients (bullying).

One of the members of our OnlinePMCourses community wrote to me.

I was reading the ‘Feeling Overwhelmed by Your Project? What to Do’ article and I was so excited. Maybe you could help me with my problem. a really big one.

Here you suggest 4 solutions for the project problems:

1. Allow more time
2. Secure more resources
3. Reduce the scope
4. Accept a drop in quality

What if nothing the above could be eased? Not the cost, not the resources, not the time, nor the quality.

Well, I’m lying. Because they stated, quality could be worse. But, when we are discussing the post KPIs, they are yelling with us, ‘why do we have such high failure rates?’

What to do in such cases?

What a Great Question

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

What a Great Question

There is a difference between overload and overwhelm. We will look at that first, before we look at the yelling client (bully).

The four solutions in the list above are the responses to overload.


Overload is having too much to do, with the resources available, in the time allowed. You can only counter overload by reducing the load:

  • Do less
  • Do it less well
  • Share the load, or
  • Take more time

Project Politics

If you can’t apply any of these, the problem is political. You have either:

  1. agreed with your stakeholder to deliver something impossible, or
  2. they believe you agreed to it

First, what you did agree to deliver?

If that has created an impossible task, you need to re-negotiate. If stakeholders expect something more than you agreed to, you need to engage them and deal with it.


When we feel overwhelmed, we don’t see reality clearly. If you are feeling stressed, you need to get calm to properly assess the situation and your choices. Are you truly overloaded or not?

Only when you get out of the overwhelm state, can you plan a way forward to please your stakeholders and deliver a project you are proud of.

But I want to focus on the ‘yelling’ comment. We need to be realistic. This sounds like bullying to me.


Bullying creates a corrosive atmosphere. It doesn’t help anything. It will just stress you. As a project leader, you must find a way to calmly and confidently assert yourself. Make it clear that you won’t accept any form of abuse or intimidation.

Tell your boss or client that you will discuss the situation when they are ready to treat you with respect. Ask them to tell you politely what they want and how they perceive the situation. Equally, they need to listen to your professional assessment with respect.

Find a Solution

You and your stakeholders need to work together to find a solution to whatever the issue is.

But there is one truth to know…

There is just one way to deal with a bully. You must stand up to them. You need to do it in a way that is respectful and measured, and you may need to seek some help and support to do it.

But stand up to them you must.

If you don’t they will take away a simple message… Bullying works. And when that becomes the norm, all is lost.

Learn More

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, here is some content that may help you.



What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel.

If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

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About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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