Friday, January 08, 2010

How to Stop Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace

How to Stop Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

In the workplace sometimes you find ambiguous situations, where you get one message where you are told that "it was a joke," but you’re not so sure. There are some consequences of that "joke" that probably you will have to bear....Then, a female coworker acts like she’s helping, but her “help” creates more work and some delays. She offers a lame excuse for being late (again) and acts offended when you tell her that lateness is a problem.
Are those behaviors as innocent as they appear? Or are these examples of passive-aggressive behavior in the workplace?
Passive aggressive behavior is indirect, hidden aggression. It can damage your own performance because you never know it's coming...You can stop passive aggressive behavior in the workplace by speaking up and speaking out.


  1. Respond assertively, and following your own perceptions.
  2. Communicate your confusion about the mixed messages you are receiving.
  3. Ask questions about the true intent behind their behavior.
  4. Pay more attention to what they do than what they say.
  5. Hold them accountable for results, not promises.
  6. Stay loose
  7. Show that you are strong and aware of his/her meaning
  8. Say it's ok or that he/she can fix the problem when they pertend like they were abused.


  • Passive Aggressive people rely on your silence about their mixed messages to work their deception. When you let them know you won't be manipulated, you can stop passive aggressive behavior in the workplace.
  • This technique may not work the first time, but may need to be repeated until the passive aggressive person stops.
  • Use Power Phrases such as: "that sounded like sarcasm. Did you intend it that way?" And, "I thought I heard a dig. Did I?"
  • If you were expecting someone to do a shared project, and your own evaluation is supposed to be attached to the whole project, but his part is not forthcoming... Ask: "You need to deliver your part of the task in two days. I know that you promised it, moreover I need to have a report of your progress of today"
  • If you suddenly realize that the passive aggressive person’s goal is to control at least the time of delivery of this shared project, have a Plan "B."
  • If you don't design an alternative plan “B” which can provide you with the extra help needed to deliver the project done in time and quality, then the choice is to continue expecting from him the delivery of his task. In both ways, the “solution” will leave a bad taste in the relationship.
  • Learn that: “You can never trust your own career evaluation to the hands of other person who could be passive aggressive.”
  • In brief, control your expectations, parcel out important tasks so there are several responsible people involved, and re-check frequently to see how much delay the passive aggressive co-worker can generate before you stop him.


  • Do not respond to passive aggressive behavior with your own passive aggressive behavior, or using sarcasm or irony.
  • Your first effort may provoke the person to up the ante by becoming more aggressive against you and defensive of his motivations.
  • If you show your anger, the passive aggressive person will be less cooperative, stop communicating and thus will confirm that you are his enemy, so becoming more hostile and resentful, even to the point of planning his revenge.
  • Be firm without hostility: Knowing that a passive aggressive person won’t fight back, but can clam up, give you the cold shoulder, tell you whatever you want to hear, or burst into tears and run away, don't show anger.

Sources and Citations

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