How to Deal With a Passive-Agressive Co-Worker

Sophie Miura

Slight eye rolls and sarcastic remarks are among the signature moves of a typical passive-aggressive colleague. Rather than confront conflict head-on, they prefer to let their distaste known via a glance or faux compliment, and it can be enough to drive you crazy. If this sounds all too familiar, therapist and author Andrea Brandt has some ways to deal, which she shared with Greatist. Follow these three tips for responding to your co-worker without losing your cool:

  1. Resist the urge to bite back. If your immediate reaction is to call your colleague out, pause. Confronting a passive-aggressive person with an accusing tone can quickly ignite a fight.
  2. Use positivity. Respond to the content, not the context of the situation. If colleagues ever sarcastically thank you, simply respond with “you’re welcome!” to disarm them.
  3. Be assertive. If you’re intent on raising the issue, be clear about how your co-worker’s comment or behaviour makes you feel. Use “I” statements to encourage empathy, rather than “you” statements, which could be misconstrued as an attack.

Looking for more advice? Read 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness by Andrea Brandt ($18).

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