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Passive-Aggressive Behavior at Work

Was it a simple oversight that you weren’t told about the free luncheon this morning, or was it a passive-aggressive act of your coworker who “forgot” to mention it?

Not everyone expresses anger by sharing feelings and talking things out. Sometimes anger is displayed passively. Few people are passive-aggressive as a way of life, but on the job, where effective communication, workplace harmony, and productivity rule, passive-aggressive behavior can undermine a positive workplace. Withholding a compliment, showing up late to a meeting, disguising criticism in a partial compliment, and giving the silent treatment are examples of passive-aggressive behavior.

An honest discussion is your path to an improved relationship. The fix: Meet in private with your coworker. Don’t label or accuse him or her of being passive-aggressive or launch a verbal attack. Instead, say what you experienced (describe the person’s behavior/act); share what that behavior/statement meant to you and how it made you feel; ask whether there is an issue or concern between you that needs to be discussed or resolved; and ask how the two of you can have a better relationship. End with an agreement to communicate more directly and honestly with each other in the future.

Keith Stein | 4/12/2018

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