How to manage passive aggressive behavior
Best solutions for passive aggressive behavior
[Tweet "Passive aggressive behaviour is rooted in insecurity, fear of conflict and very often anger. "]It's very damaging for a team and challenging for all, especially the manager.
Because women are often discouraged from expressing anger overtly, or may have been traumatized by an abusive person or situation in the past, passive aggression can quite often be exhibited by women. The workplace also fosters dishonest communication and phrases like, "suck it up and get on with it" and the "angry smile" between clenched teeth are not uncommon. But what we are talking about here is an a pattern of behaviour which is described in Psychology Today as"a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger” that is toxic and damaging to workplace culture.
What steps can a manager take to deal with passive aggressive behavior?
#1. Name it
[Tweet "The worst leadership tactic is to be slack or relaxed about the behavior"]. Very often work arounds are created to put the individual in a role where they can do the least damage. This damage limitation approach is a band aid on a wound that needs stitches. They are essentially being paid for doing nothing or very little and certainly what they were hired to do . This creates resentment in the team. Passive aggressive behaviour is a power play, and needs to be treated as such. The person is sticking their finger up at you with a smile, or a sulk, on their faces. Being seen to tolerate it weakens your position as a leader.
Signup for our Leadership Coaching program which will to help you develop the skills you need to deal with passive aggressive situations in your team.
#2. Be clear about their role and their KPIs.
If possible get her to sign off on a written document about her responsibilities. Be specific about your expectations and the consequences of failing to deliver. The passive aggressive person will leverage any unintended nuance. Don't say "Work towards close of business on Monday " Say "5.30 p.m. Monday 21st January, without fail."
#3. Use assertive, but constructive communication
Here assertive communication and authoritative body language are key. It's not necessary to raise your voice in an accusatory way. In fact, it's best keep a moderate voice, but use powerful language. Don't blame, but explain the consequences of her behaviour on you, the team and the business. Read: Assertive Communication
#4. Show empathy
Recognise the potential in the individual and how this pattern of behavior is sabotaging her ability to effectively contribute to the business and her own success. If she has achievement stories reference them. Establish what was different when she was able to produce good work.
Create powerful relationships for success in business and all aspects of life with Relationship Mastery Coaching
#5. Define and communicate your limits
Put a timeline on a period during which she should strive to achieve a change in her behaviour. Explain that it could impact her eventual function within the group, when you will have to reassess her role. It's important (and difficult) to combine empathy, boundary setting and the possibility of serious consequences. Plan what you intend to say.
#6 Confirm in writing
[Tweet "People who exhibit passive aggressive behavior thrive on ambiguity."] They will use it to their advantage. Be as specific in writing as you were verbally. Make sure you are succinct and clear. Seek guidance from your H.R. function or legal department for any potential legal situation if you are setting our conditions which impact a contract. The passive aggressive will always find excuses. "It's not my fault I was sick /my car broke down/my dog had an accident, the day before the deadline"
Passive aggressive behaviour damages team morale and is bad for business. It's covert hostility and power playing and should be treated as such.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
September 17th Latham Watkins Brussels 1200
In-house corporate event
Inclusive Leadership Workshop
September 20th EIGE Vilnius 0900
How to combat sexism in the workplace
Peer review of EU booklet authored by Dorothy Dalton
September 30th BD Foundation Webinar with Dorothy Dalton (online)
Topic: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
October 3rd JUMP Hub Brussels
Gender equality: how to build an attractive employer brand without falling into the trap of “gender washing”
Infrabel, rue de France, 9, 1070 Brusells
Open registration : http://jump.eu.com/hub-sessions/gender-equality-build-attractive-employer-brand-without-falling-trap-gender-washing/
October 15th NEHRA Event at AXA Brussels
Best Diversity and Inclusion Practices
October 22nd and 23rd Unleash Conference Paris
Open registration: https://unleashgroup.io
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Creating a caregiver-friendly environment can improve the workplace for everyone, which is always likely to improve performance too.read more
‘Be more confident’ is not a simple task. It doesn’t work like that. But there are little tips that you can use to help you on your path to confidence.read more
Networking is like gardening- it takes time and effort in order to make the relationships grow, they don’t just spring up overnight.read more