Effective Ways To Combat Passive-Aggressive Behavior At Work
07 October, 2020
4 min read

From being downright sarcastic to making intentional mistakes, instances of passive-aggressive behavior are common in workplaces worldwide. Such kind of behavior can be very harmful for an organization and its employees. It can disrupt the work environment and affect employee morale and productivity.

What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior or P.A.B?

One can describe passive-aggressive behavior as a deliberate and indirect way of expressing feelings of anger. Instead of being openly aggressive and violent, passively aggressive people tend to express their anger indirectly.

If a person has trouble being expressive and open about their feelings from an early age, they might use passive aggression to avoid dealing with issues. Also, people with low self-esteem, insecurity, self-confidence, or mental stress may act passively aggressive in front of others.

What are the signs of Passive-Aggressive behavior at work?

You may have experienced or been guilty of P.A.B at work sometime in your life. There are several ways in which such kind of behavior can be expressed at work.

Here are some common examples -

  • Having a negative attitude at work by being stubborn, making sarcastic comments, etc.
  • Not communicating effectively and giving people the silent treatment.
  • Criticizing others and withholding praise intentionally.
  • Using dysfunctional techniques such as gossip and complaining to deal with issues.
  • Saying things that do not match actions.
  • Avoiding confrontations and running away from responsibilities.
  • Intentionally sabotaging group projects at work by taking sick leaves.
  • Preventing other people’s success by withholding crucial information.
  • Being late always and missing out on group meetings.

What impact does Passive-aggressive behavior have at work?

If you are an employer, passive aggression can significantly impact your organization and your employees. From affecting team morale to hindering workplace performance, it can destroy your company’s culture, and you must take steps to prevent it.

Here are some ways passive-aggressive behavior can affect an organization -

  • Decrease workplace productivity
  • Affect employee morale
  • Affect employee relationships
  • Create a hostile work environment
  • Create workplace conflicts
  • Decrease employee engagement

Ways Employers Can Combat Passive-Aggression in the Workplace

As mentioned above, passive aggression can be very detrimental to your organization. A passive-aggressive person in your workplace can cause serious consequences both for the company and your workforce.

Therefore, you should take proper steps to identify and protect your workplace from destructive behavior.

Here are some steps that you can take to manage passive-aggressiveness in your workplace -

Educate your employees

The first step is to educate your employees on passive-aggressive behavioral traits and it’s adverse effects.

Often, P.A.B results from a lack of self-awareness and inability to assess one’s emotions properly. Educating your employees will help them understand the causes of such behavior, and they will be better able to identify and address it. They will also become more prepared when dealing with a passive-aggressive coworker.

Encourage direct communication

Ineffective communication among employees is one of the primary causes of P.A.B at work. Also, passively aggressive people tend to lack proper communication skills.

So, encourage proper communication among your employees at all times. Ask them to communicate face-to-face instead of sending emails whenever possible. Doing so will help your employees develop their communication skills and make them more confident.

Create a friendly work environment

One of the best ways to prevent anger in the workplace is by creating a positive and friendly work environment. A pleasant work environment is more likely to foster positive emotions like happiness and prevent negative feelings like anger and resentment among employees.

Therefore, you should encourage your employees to be friendly and build better relationships with each other to prevent P.A.B at work.

Hire a counselor

Passive aggressiveness is often the result of hidden feelings and emotions that people cannot vent properly. Also, passive-aggressive people can find it difficult to express their feelings even if they try. In such situations, taking the help of a professional counselor can be very beneficial.

If you are experiencing P.A.B signs in your workplace, hire a counselor or psychologist to provide one-on-one sessions to your employees. A professional counselor can help your employees identify and express their feelings appropriately.

Promote and encourage mindfulness

You must know that mindfulness techniques like meditation effectively increase self-awareness and relieve stress and anger.

Encouraging mindfulness among your employees can help them become more aware of their feelings and emotions. This way, they can be able to communicate their feelings in constructive ways instead of destructive ones.

Engage your employees in team-building activities

As mentioned earlier, proper communication and teamwork are vital in eliminating malicious behavior in a workplace. Team-building activities like fitness challenges and company outings, for instance, can be a great way to strengthen your employees’ relationships with each other.

By engaging them in such activities, you can promote effective communication, build team morale, and prevent emotions like anger and hatred.

Final Words

Passive-aggressive behavior is quite common in workplaces, and it can affect an organization in many ways. Such behavior is usually the result of ineffective communication among employees, so employers need to promote the same.

Employers also need to train their employees to identify and address such behavior types among themselves correctly. Doing so can improve the working environment, increase workplace productivity and also build team morale.

Besides working as a content marketer at Vantage Circle, Shah Alif Ahmed is also an internationally certified nutrition specialist, competitive bodybuilder and a musician. For any queries reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

Keep your employees fit and productive