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How to Help Employees with Passive-Aggressive Behaviour in the Workplace

  • By Sheldon Kawarsky
  • February 13, 2023

Employees with Passive-Aggressive Behaviour

Passive-aggressive behaviour at work can be a real challenge in any organization. From passive resistance to targeted outbursts, many employers struggle to deal with its disruptive effects on their organizations’ productivity, culture, and morale.

Fortunately, there are steps that HR managers and employers can take to identify signs of passive-aggression from employees and develop employee communication strategies to curb this type of behaviour. In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can help your organization stay productive by learning how to recognize and address passive-aggressive behaviour amongst employees.

What Is Passive-Aggressive Behaviour?

Passive-aggressive behaviour occurs when an employee expresses negative emotions and attitudes in an outwardly passive way. This behaviour could mean visualizing aggression and hostility through silent treatments or responding to requests with procrastination or obstructionism.

Passive-aggressive behaviour at work can be caused by various issues, many of which stem from employee skills or behaviours. Poor time management, lack of problem-solving skills and communication skills, and poor stress management all have the potential to lead an employee to passive-aggressive behaviour.

Additionally, if an employee lacks adaptability, leadership, or empathy, their workplace behaviour is likely to become passive-aggressive due to their inability to interact effectively with colleagues and management.

Examples of Passive-Aggressive Behaviour at Work

With passive-aggressive behaviour, employees often try to make subtle power plays that may not be readily noticeable yet can have serious consequences for their work environment.

For example, in an office environment, a passive-aggressive employee may agree to do a task without showing any protest or complaint but fail to complete it within the required timeline. Another example of passive-aggressive behaviour at work is when employees don’t use direct communication and instead act out their grievances through hints or body language like sulking, avoiding eye contact while communicating, and deliberately ignoring instructions.

How to Identify Passive-Aggressive Behaviour in Employees

Keeping an eye out for passive-aggressive behaviour at work is essential for leaders and executives to maintain team morale and productivity. Passive-aggressive behaviour can be identified in different forms, such as face-to-face communication, emails, or silent employees.

Some of the most common signs of passive-aggressive behaviour include:

  • Talking behind teammates’ backs
  • Using negative sarcasm
  • Submitting frequent complaints
  • Not engaging when given employee feedback
  • Avoiding assignments
  • Holding grudges for too long
  • Making excuses instead of taking accountability
  • Blaming others for their mistakes

Leaders need to be able to spot these behaviours early to implement solutions that promote healthy employee communication and ensure a successful working environment where everyone involved can thrive.

The Impact of Passive-Aggressive Behaviour on the Workplace

Passive-aggressive behaviour in the workplace can hugely affect work culture, including heightened stress and conflict. In a hybrid/remote work culture, such issues are often exacerbated, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and instability.

Workplaces must foster a positive atmosphere that promotes more assertive communication styles. When leaders lack empathy and are not adequately equipped to handle this sort of situation, the result can be employees being fired or feeling forced to resign. This action ultimately leads to higher employee turnover rates, lower morale, and damage to productivity levels as new staff must constantly be trained.

How Soft Skills Training Can Help Your Employees

Nowadays, more and more companies are turning to soft skills training and personal development training for employees to help their teams attain higher levels of efficiency and performance in their work lives.

This unique education covers everything from assertive communication skills, time management, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, conflict management, and resilience. Employers are encouraged to provide support for remote and hybrid working teams for them to pave the way for soft skills development.

Moreover, corporate leaders also need to receive adequate soft skills training, as these abilities are undeniably essential for success in leadership roles. Proper soft skills training cannot only identify existing employee behaviours but rectify them, contributing significantly to improved efficiency in any given workplace context.

Why Choose The Soft Skills Group?

The Soft Skills Group provides revolutionary hybrid soft skills training, combining the benefit of both in-classroom instruction and remote learning into one engaging workshop. We customize our workshops to meet the needs of each client, tailoring them to fit each unique situation. Our assertiveness training can help improve employee communication and reduce passive-aggressive behaviour at work.

Learn more about how The Soft Skills Group can help take your development in soft skills to the next level. Contact us today to learn more or to reserve your spot!

Sheldon Kawarsky

Sheldon has over 20 years of experience holding manager and director roles in the private and academic sectors, focusing on business development and fostering relationships with companies, universities, government organizations, and venture capitalists. His strength is in relationship building and clarifying the needs of clients to ensure their training maximizes their return on investment.