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NextGen Magazine


Three Steps to Avoid Being Passive-Aggressive

Jason Wong
Published Date:
Jun 14, 2016

noisy-co-workerWhen dealing with a frustrating situation involving another person, it can be tempting, especially if they’re a coworker, to deal with the situation by being passive-aggressive. It can feel good to combat that sense of powerlessness by exercising petty judgment on the offending person while maintaining a slight veneer of deniability. However, doing so is neither the mature nor the most beneficial path to take, so here are three steps from the Harvard Business Review to follow if you find yourself wanting to take the low road:

Lead with a question. Start by asking whether there is a particular rationale for whatever it is the target of your ire is doing. If there’s a legitimate reason for what they’re doing, you might find your frustration simply disappears. Or, they may not have considered their actions as noteworthy, and simply inquiring might cause them to change their behavior.

Share how you feel. Make sure that they know that you are upset. Not everybody is great at reading body language or tone, so stating that you are upset is important. At the same time, be sure to recognize their reasoning as valid (at least for them) to avoid putting them on the defensive.

Request a change, and support it rationally. Let them know what they can do to alleviate the situation and explain why by using sentence structure like, “Since…Please…” When confronted with a reasonable position, it’ll become harder for the offending person to be obstinate.