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Is passive-aggressive behaviour impacting your relationships?


You may have heard the phrase ‘passive-aggressive’ thrown around at home, work or a communications skills training course, however, it tends to lack a clear definition.

So, what is passive aggression and how can it affect the development of business relationships at your workplace?

Passive-aggressive communication

Many people may not know what passive aggressive means and the difference between it and outright aggression. Unlike aggression, where intention can be ambiguous, passive aggression involves deliberate but covert ways of expression anger that are subtly driven by revenge.

One of the major reasons people engage in passive aggressive behaviour is the belief that any show of anger will negatively impact current relationships. As such, emotions tend to be bottled up and released indirectly – for instance, ineffective communication behaviours.

Some of the actions that fall into the category of passive aggression include:

  • Sulking
  • Procrastination
  • Sabotaging group work
  • Generating resentment out of sight

If you are finding yourself enacting in any of these actions, do not fret, there are a number of ways to move from passive aggression to assertiveness.

Being assertive without passive aggression

While both expressions deal with hostility, they are markedly different in their approaches. Assertiveness is underlined by honesty and directness. Rather than masking your anger or frustration, assertiveness is about acknowledging your feelings and addressing them in a manner that will help generate a solution.

One of the underlying drivers of passive aggression is the bottling up of feelings stemming from an inability to communicate properly. For instance, there may not be effective communication pathways available to you to voice your grievances and effect change. On the other hand, you may not have the skills you need to voice your concerns or solutions in a business environment.

If you are worried about being passive aggressive, there are actions you can take. For one, you could engage with communications skills training through an experienced provider.

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