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Handling a passive-aggressive co-worker

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

Passive-aggressive people are a pain in the office. They can derail entire projects and make it miserable to come in to work.

The worst thing you can do with a passive-aggressive person is join in their ineffective communication practices. Instead, Preston Ni, author of How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People, suggests taking these tips.

  • Don’t try to change them. Passive-aggressive types will not be interested in what you have to say about their behavior—and it’s not your job to change them.
  • Use humor. You may be able to use humor to point out their behavior and the fact that your composure hasn’t been rattled.
  • Refuse to tolerate damaging behaviors. If you find yourself struggling with a serious situation, formalize your communication by putting things in writing or asking someone to witness your conversation. “Avoid making accusations and statements that begin with the word ‘you,’ which are more likely to trigger defensiveness. Instead, use sentences that begin with ‘I,’ ‘it’, ‘we,’ ‘let’s’ and ‘this,’ followed by facts,” Ni says.
  • Let them be heard. Many passive-aggressive personalities react that way because they feel they won’t be heard. Show them that’s not the case.

— Adapted from “Tips for Dealing with a Passive Aggressive Personality at Work,” Anita Bruzzese, The Fast Track.

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