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How to Deal with Passive Aggressive Workmates

By Admin | 23 February 2018 |

Having to deal with passive-aggressive behaviour in the workmates can be one of the greatest challenges in the workplace. Knowing how to respond to snide comments, sarcasm, or delaying tactics can be very frustrating. In the end, someone who is passive-aggressive towards you personally or other in general can create a toxic environment in the office.

How to Identify Passive Aggressive Behaviour

First of all, it’s important to identify passive aggressive behaviour in others. Of course, because we are all different, we all have the tendency to act in certain ways. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that you are having to deal with someone who is showing passive aggressive tendencies. For example:

  • They procrastinate when you ask them to do something
  • Constantly complaining about you
  • They tend to dismiss other’s ideas without providing any alternative solutions
  • Try to find subtle ways sabotage your success
  • Give you the silent treatment
  • Pretending not to hear
  • Give you subtle insults

How to Deal with Passive Aggressive Behaviour

Let’s look at some of the best ways to deal with a boss, workmate, or colleague who is showing signs of passive-aggressive behaviour.

Identify the behaviour patterns

First, it’s important to know if the other person’s actions are truly passive aggressive or just personality quirks.

It is usually best to give a person the benefit of the doubt. However, it is also now time to pay more attention to their behaviour in general. For example, do you notice a pattern of behaviour developing or was it just an isolated case? Do you notice that the individual show passive-aggressive behaviour towards others with whom they have disputes?

If you can clearly see that there are signs of passive-aggressiveness, you need to work out what kind of relationship you want. It’s important to make proactive choices to safeguard your well-being, emotions, and mental health.

Don’t respond in like

It’s important to defuse situations that could fuel the passive-aggressive behaviour. So, it’s best to try and keep a calm mind and not answer like-for-like.

There are a number of ways that you can respond to take the fuel out of the fire. For example, you pretend that you believe the compliments are sincere. Of course, you don’t buy into the snide comments.

Or, if you feel the situation is getting heated, you could simply say: “Ok, I understand. Give me some time to think about it and we can discuss it later.” This can buy you some time to explore solutions to the behaviour.

Remove ego from communication

Sometimes, it’s necessary to change your way of communicating with a passive-aggressive individual. One way to do this is to avoid using “you” or “your” and replace it with “we”. This helps to depersonalize the issue and improve cooperation.

Set boundaries

Having to deal with passive aggressive actions in the workplace can be frustrating. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to change individuals who have a passive aggressive streak to their personality. In these circumstances, you need to set boundaries for the relationship. This may involve limiting the time you spend with the person or ending the relationship altogether.

Sometimes, reaching out to a trusted person can help to get someone else’s perspective or advice. You could try speaking your manager or HR director. However, it may be a mistake to ask them to intervene as this could make the situation worse.

Address the issue

In some cases, you should address the issue head-on in a tactful manner with the person. Although every situation is different, there are a few tips that can help to address the problem. For example:

  • Don’t have the conversation in the earshot of others.
  • Don’t use general terms but have specific instances when their behaviour has affected a project.
  • Ask about their motivations in a tactful but firm manner. This can give some insight into the hostility.
  • Keep emotions out of the discussion and allow the person the opportunity to speak. Remember, don’t take what they are saying personally

Recommend solutions in the future to prevent any hostility.