Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behavior

  • 7 months ago
3 minute read.
Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behavior

Do any of your colleagues first agree to complete the task and then make excuses? Or do any of them tease others behind their back or in their face and then say they’re kidding? If you said yes, maybe they’re suffering from passive-aggressive behavior.

If you’ve never heard of the above phrase but are curious, read along. Below, you’ll find what passive-aggressive behavior is and how you can deal with the same. So, let’s get started.

What is passive aggression or passive-aggressive behavior?

When people express negative feelings in a harmful way but indirectly, it’s known as passive aggression. Instead of dealing with the problem, such people conceal their hostile intentions.

Anyone who’s not in the habit of being open about feelings could exhibit passive  aggressive behavior. For example, whenever there’s a problem, such people walk away. And instead of communicating directly, they try indirect and hurtful ways to communicate.

How does passive aggression affect the workplace environment?

A subordinate having a grudge against you might exhibit passive aggression. And if it happens, you might miss deadlines at their hands. They might agree to accept the assignment but will end up with an excuse or poorly completing the assignment.

Someone with passive-aggressive behavior might turn offensively sarcastic. Such people indirectly say what they had in mind and then apologize. This kind of attitude can disturb workplace peace and hamper productivity.

Emotional Counseling

How can you deal with passive-aggressive behavior (workplace)?

1. Identity passive aggression

Passive aggression is subtle, which makes it hard to identify. However, you can identify it if you observe. Take notes of the behaviors your teammates or colleagues exhibit. Check especially for:

  • Over sarcastic behavior.
  • Accepting a task and then not being able to complete it due to petty reasons.

You need to talk to your colleagues to ensure it’s real. This is where your notes will help. If it’s not real, maybe you were just exaggerating. Otherwise, follow the below steps.

2. Make them feel safe

If you’ve found the culprit, make them feel safe. Help them understand that they can trust you can talk to you. You should encourage them and understand how they feel.

3. Be gentle

Don’t be too harsh on people exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior. For instance, if someone turns up late to the office, let them explain the reason. And avoid insulting or scolding them.

Talk to them directly but don’t make them feel like you’re specifically targeting them. Now, you can do that by addressing them as “you.” Or you can address other employees including him/her or not make them feel targeted.

4. Don’t react

Most people don’t know about passive aggression, especially if they are the ones suffering. So, don’t let your emotions make them feel like victims of something. Always stay calm and ignore angry impulses.

This way, they can feel safe, calm, and friendly. And you can coordinate with them better.

5. Find the reason behind such behavior

Sometimes passive-aggressive people tell they’re fine while their behavior is the opposite. So, you need to dig deeper and find the cause behind such behavior. Give them time and let them think. However, don’t let them blame others.

6. Offer training

Help such people with professional wellness programs. However, make sure to enroll multiple people. Otherwise, they might feel like the odd one out.

Wrapping Up

Aggression in interpersonal relations is quite common. However, you need to ensure it’s not passive aggression. It’s because passive aggression is unhealthy and toxic for everyone involved in the relationship, directly or indirectly.

Fortunately, just by following the above tips, you can deal with passive aggression and ensure a better workplace environment. So, if you have someone suffering from passive-aggressive behavior, do help them.

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