Efficient Strategies for Tackling Workplace Passive-Aggression

Is your workplace riddled with people who enjoy a good dose of sarcasm or teasing, sometimes even at the expense of others? Do they throw in a “just kidding” to lighten the mood after delivering a particularly cutting remark? Well, you might be dealing with passive-aggressive behavior.

In this post, we’ll break down what passive aggression is and share some strategies to handle it more effectively.

Understanding Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Mayo Clinic, a medical practice and research group, defines passive-aggressive behavior as a way for individuals to express their negative feelings harmfully but indirectly. Instead of addressing issues directly, they cloak their hostility and discontent through subtle actions.

Notice the behavior of your behavior and that of your workmates. If you grew up in an environment where expressing feelings openly wasn’t encouraged, you might resort to passive-aggressive behavior as a way to avoid direct confrontation. This can manifest as sulking, emotional withdrawal, or finding indirect ways to communicate feelings.

Life coach Leah Veazey emphasizes that while passive-aggressiveness allows someone to express disagreement without being confrontational, it’s not the most effective communication technique and can be detrimental to relationships.

Strategies to Manage Passive-Aggressive Behavior


If you notice a coworker engaging in passive-aggressive behavior, avoiding them might be your first instinct. However, addressing the issue directly is crucial.

Plan a conversation with your coworker to ensure they don’t feel targeted, and consider involving the HR department for a private, constructive meeting.


Understand that passive-aggressive behavior can stem from various reasons, including internal emotions or external factors like workplace competition.

Identifying the root cause helps in deciding the best approach. In some cases, addressing team stress openly might be necessary.


Make it clear that expressing concerns openly is encouraged and safe. Foster an environment where people feel comfortable discussing problems directly rather than resorting to covert methods.

Lead by example, praising and supporting those who bring issues to your attention.


Provide accurate feedback using precise language. Instead of making general accusations, point out specific instances and give the person a chance to explain.

Avoid direct “you” statements (e.g., “you are late” or “you are incompetent”) to prevent the other person from feeling attacked and becoming defensive.


Consider offering one-on-one coaching to help team members communicate assertively. Role-play scenarios to practice addressing issues confidently without resorting to passive-aggressive behavior. Additional communication skills training may be beneficial.


Despite the temptation to respond in a similar passive-aggressive manner, focus on maintaining positive habits. Upholding a cooperative and positive atmosphere can influence your team positively. Resist the urge to engage in behaviors that only prolong unpleasant dynamics.

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By following these strategies, you can foster a more open and constructive work environment, reducing the impact of passive-aggressive behavior on your team.

Sources: 1 & 2


7 Simple Ways to Stay Positive at Work

Psychology defines attitude as a set of emotions, beliefs, and behaviors toward a particular object, person, or event. It involves a person’s perspective or mindset.

What does it mean to have a positive attitude at work?

There are times when it is crucial to have a positive mindset at work. Whether you are meeting with difficult clients or giving an important presentation to your supervisors, you need to solve problems with zestiness to arrive at a beneficial outcome.

Having and practicing a positive attitude is not about being blindly optimistic or avoiding negative scenarios. Instead, it means being realistic about people and situations at work, while acknowledging both failures and successes. With a positive attitude, setbacks are not interpreted as a sign to give up because they motivate the person to begin improvement and problem solving.

When you feel exhausted or disappointed because of constant work-related failures, it is harder to keep a positive attitude. Thus, you have to learn strategies to maintain a positive attitude at work. Maintaining this will enable you to stay productive, motivate others, and achieve your organization’s goals.


It only takes a few rotten apples to spoil the barrel. Surrounding yourself with co-workers who complain about everything can make you see the world in a different light. You might think that radiating your positivity can help change them, but that is not always the case. It is best to surround yourself with positive people.

Connect with people who ignite innovative ideas, enjoy their tasks, and who are interested in many things outside of work.


Your overall work attitude can improve by adjusting your vocabulary. Consider replacing negative words with positive words in conversations and performance appraisals. Let your team members know what they are doing right and how they can improve in other areas rather than only focusing on what they are doing incorrectly.


Focusing on the solutions will enable you to think of the best ways to address an issue. If you feel that a co-worker is not contributing to the team, consider assigning the person to a new task or offering one-on-one coaching.


Smiling more often may improve your mood, according to studies. It can also help clients and co-workers feel more comfortable when interacting with you. Make an effort to smile several times throughout your workday.


Appreciating others and extending your gratitude are priceless gestures that can impact a person. Selfless acts of kindness most often result in appreciation from your co-workers or your boss, which can make you both feel good. For instance, you can give a card or a simple gift to your co-worker who recently got married.


As much as you appreciate others, you must also reward yourself. Improve your attitude while at work by rewarding yourself when you attain milestones or small wins. For instance, you can take yourself out to your favorite restaurant after accomplishing a certain number of tasks throughout the week. Doing something you love can help motivate you to continue working.


Taking breaks during the day can help lessen stress and negativity. Go for a short walk during your lunch break or do some light stretches when you have time. To ensure that you have more time to slow down at the end of your shift, consider completing your complex tasks earlier in the day.

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If you are feeling immensely stressed, it may be beneficial to your mental health to take a day off work.

Sources: 1 & 2


Sad to Return to Work? Toxic Positivity Says You Need to Feel Blessed!

The longer our time off work is, the more common it is to feel upset about returning. As we return to work after the long Yuletide season, our routine will start to change. Humans experience the most comfort with what is known and a routine of being at home or being away from work becomes our normal. Feeling nervous or discontent about returning to work after a break of one week or more is not necessarily concerning! It is more likely human nature.

As you enter the halls of your office, a co-worker may tell you to “bring good vibes only” or “feel blessed that you have work”. It is upsetting to hear that “be positive” remark when you know that you are having a difficult day. You are in the presence of toxic positivity at work. Toxic positivity comes when you are actively minimizing or invalidating negative emotions.

A study showed that more than 75% of respondents in a survey by Science of People said they “sometimes, often, or very often ignore their emotions in favor of being happy.” An example of toxic positivity in the workplace is being told that you need to “look at the brighter side” or to “just stay positive” despite not getting the promotion that you worked hard for. Have you experienced these? Does your workplace value positivity to the extent that it turns toxic?

Toxic positivity at its worst can negatively impact engagement and productivity, diminish trust, and damage company culture.


Toxic positive increases burnout, which is exacerbated by emotional labor. Emotional labor occurs when you are feeling obligated to express an emotion that you are not actually feeling.


Invalidating the emotions of the employees or minimizing their prowess can cause loss of trust and create an avoidant work culture.


When you cannot even name what is happening to you, you cannot start the process of analyzation. You will not be able to process your emotions. It not only affects your mental health, but also your overall well-being. Toxic positivity blocks mindfulness, because you cannot accept what is happening in the present.


If you do not feel comfortable telling each other your feelings when something is not functioning properly, you may not feel that the space is safe. Is it time to turn the culture upside down to create a new level of emotional openness?


Organizations should ask themselves the following queries to identify if toxic positivity is present:
a. Are employees allowed to change or challenge the culture?

b. Are employees allowed to express concerns or reservations during meetings?

c. Is this team allowed to play the role of devil’s advocate?

d. Are your employees expected to say yes or to agree all the time?

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Optimism is healthy. However, you need to ensure you are not being positive at the expense of the truth. Leaders should encourage openness and honesty at work. Employees will follow soon. Practice emotion-sharing exercises at meetings to foster more understanding and ignite cohesion between co-workers!

Sources: 1 & 2


How to Handle Conflicts with Your Boss

Sometimes the toughest part of your job is not the work…it is the people. The mixture of personalities and individual differences can cause conflicts. In the workplace, conflict causes a significant degree of frustration, discomfort, sadness, anger, and pain. It is a different story when the conflict is between you and your boss.

Where your boss is concerned, you want to be sure to apply plenty of finesse. It is crucial that you remain calm and objective. There is nothing to be gained and much to lose by getting angry and being disrespectful. You may not be able to see each other eye-to-eye, but you will have shared thoughts by further nurturing your relationship. Thay being said, here are some tips you can apply to handle the conflicts with your boss:


Put all your energy into understanding and empathizing with the management’s point of view. Ask open-ended questions until you fully understand where your boss is coming from. Resolution begins with respecting each other’s point of view.


Find a common ground that makes sense for you, your boss, and the organization. Stay on this topic until you identify a mutually beneficial outcome that you can work towards to.


An honest, sit-down conversation is more likely to yield a thoughtful response than an emotional exchange sandwiched between meetings. Unless it is an emergency, you can ask your boss for an appointment so that you will have time to gather your thoughts. It is best to approach your boss with a calm and collected attitude to get your point across and to ask for necessary help.


Timing is essential when approaching your boss about issues and other combative events. You may be the perfect target for a feisty exchange if he or she just had a major setback.

Know your timing! Try to avoid addressing conflicts before lunch when hunger might distort reason or just before the end of shift when everyone is eager to go home.


Once you are given permission to discuss your concern, be clear and compelling. Link your perspective to what matters most to your boss, the organization, and your common goal. If your boss is not (physically and emotionally) available to talk, reschedule the discussion when the dust settles.

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Sources: 1 & 2


Why Are Millennials So Challenging to Manage?

Fully understanding how the minds of Millennials work is a near-impossible task! However, it is crucial to address a few generation-defining characteristics to help enhance your understanding.


Regardless of their co-workers’ relative seniority, level of education, or other remarkable accomplishments, Millennials view themselves and other generations as equals. You can either interpret this as a sign of entitlement or a sign of secured self-image. The perception of equivalence is partially rooted from the fact that they bring a unique skillset to the workplace, and they know it.

Millennials are fluent in technology compared to previous generations. Their recommendations often provide increased organizational efficiency, and they expect to be taken seriously for that.


Previous generations considered Millennials as more sensitive. A part of it is true and it’s not all bad. Millennials have low tolerance for injustice, disrespect, and hostility.

They are willing to speak up about the quality of their experiences (i.e., the good and bad) and are willing to apply compassion in what they do. Thus, they are aware of the harm inflicted by toxic management. They are wary of its risks including burnout and diminished performance arising from unsupportive working environments.


According to data from Gallup, 60% of Millennials are open to new job opportunities, making them the generation that is most likely to change jobs when they get the chance. Millennials are eager to climb the metaphorical ladder. They keep a constant eye out for professional growth.

The desire for professional growth may be influenced by social comparison and social media. From peers publishing their latest accomplishments on LinkedIn to the implicit follower counts on other platforms, Millennials often measure their accomplishments against their peers.


Millennials have seemingly insatiable craving for feedback and instant gratification. In response to technology, the Internet has become a background noise for constant positive and negative feedback. Beyond the noise, this generation has come to rely on crowd-sourced data to guide their every move.

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Regardless of whether you are giving constructive feedback or compliments, it is important to understand their expectations about frequency when determining how to communicate with them in the workplace.


If you are concerned about how to manage them in the workplace, you need to learn how to communicate in a way that encourages them to stay open. For instance, you may start by saying: “I am going to be frank with you about your performance because I see your potential and I trust that you can handle this feedback.”

Using this strategy frames the feedback no matter how difficult it is to deliver. Moreover, it puts your employee in a position where being receptive to feedback affirms their reputation as a respectable peer. Additionally, you can provide opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Millennials can be your greatest allies and your hardest working group of employees if you manage them correctly. Consider the generation-defining characteristics mentioned above to guide your leadership style!

Sources: 1 & 2