6 ways to deal with 'passive aggression' - the familiar worm in the creative industry broth 8 minutes to read
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6 ways to deal with ‘passive aggression’ – the familiar worm in the creative industry broth 8 minutes to read

Passive aggression (passive-aggressive behavior) is a concept used to refer to indirectly expressing negative emotions to others even though the person himself did not make any mistakes. Whether working in an office or living a freelance life, you probably encounter this many times (sometimes you yourself are also actively causing passive aggression without knowing it).

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Passive aggression often takes the form of words, actions, or even ignorance. Common behavior in a passive aggressor is that when faced with a request or from someone they don’t like, they will still show consent, even with great enthusiasm, however, afterward. They fulfilled the request very quickly, delayed the deadline or even did not make it implicitly show their disobedience.

Passive aggression like this is very common in the workplace, where conflicts between co-workers, superiors-subordinates or simply me-customers are common. transformed into underground stress, forming a long-term passive aggression as mentioned above.

Identify some common passive aggression behaviors

Some behaviors of passive aggression at work include:

  • You are talking to them and they keep clicking on the phone without apologizing or explaining the reason
  • Agree to work on a design project but leave it halfway or pretend to forget about interrupting your work and team
  • Do not directly express their feelings, opinions and wants but expect others to recognize themselves (this can be easily encountered between agency-client relationships, when the “client” wants to “agency” must fully understand their brief, and the agency thinks the “client” is trying to bully me, which in turn leads to a “out of wave” situation and both sides do not want to try to “catch up” again. )
  • Be silent, do not interact or answer but do not tell the other party why (this is a fairly obvious result of the situation of “deviation” and giving up “catching waves” above)
  • Satisfying, using praise but implicit contempt, for example, “It’s very good to learn by yourself!” …

How to deal with workplace behavior of passive aggression

So how do you deal with such mean colleagues? Before planning your exit and filing your resignation, try the following 6 tips.

You go on doing your thing

Remember that you cannot change anyone’s personality, the only thing that can change is how you view them. According to Doctor of Psychology Adam Borland, Being stressed out with bad co-workers will bring down your morale very quickly and affect the quality of your labor a lot, so try to think that having passive aggressive behavior is a communication error that they have not been taught to correct, rather than thinking that they intentionally create such conflict.

This is especially meaningful for individuals working in creative environments because the quality of their work depends greatly on their emotional and mental health. Next time, if you face similar situation, try to think “They’re not mean, they just don’t know how to express it well.” to turn inhibitions of aggression into positive energy and thereby convey into your creative products!

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Proactive frankly

The essence of passive aggression is “hidden” behavior. People with this behavior often avoid expressing their views and implicitly ask others to understand what they mean. If others do not understand, they get angry and become uncooperative. So, to solve this case, be the one to take the initiative and put the problem straightforwardly and directly.

If in a meeting you want them to express their opinion on this design, please name it and ask them specific questions like “How do you feel about this font?”, “Is this red color bold enough?” instead of just asking them general “Do you have any comments?”. The purpose of being frank is to give them the opportunity to speak their minds, so that they will have no reason to later act against or blame others for not understanding them. again.

Press the “Pause” button.

Imagine conflict with the passive aggressor as a movie, and the way to avoid delving into conflict is to press the pause button. How to pause? It is to take a lot of time to think before responding to emails or texts from them.

Taking a deep breath during this “pause”, you will definitely regain your calm and have time to think more thoroughly, thereby helping you avoid falling into the trap of pending negative emotions. swept you into it.

Avoid accusations and personal criticism

No one is perfect, no matter how good you are, there will be times when you make mistakes. Should you take this opportunity to “take revenge” on those who have been passive aggressors with you? The answer is no, because condemning their mistakes will put them on the defensive and will later continue aggression with you at higher, heavier levels.

Therefore, choose to condemn mistakes skillfully and comfortably, just enough to let them know that they are not doing well but do not name them personally to criticize, for example, when they are late for sending out draft ideas. to customers, instead of criticizing “You missed the deadline for sending the sketch last weekend.” then use sentences with subjects with collective tendencies with suggestions for correcting errors “We need to make sure all agreed items are sent on time. What was missed last week, we will try to arrange completion today “.

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With this method, you will not need to play the bad guy when exposing others, nor be gossiped as a tough enemy, but still fulfill the responsibility of the teamwork of reminding and mutual support.

Take care of your own mental health

Schedule a “kick off” appointment with friends, go on a jungle hike, take a hot bath with scented candles or any activity that will help relieve your troubles and support your feelings. Self satisfaction is encouraged in this situation. Doctor Borland to speak “You will easily become frustrated in a work environment where there are many passive aggressive colleagues, so taking care of yourself is essential to keeping a balance between emotions and reason, so that you can keep intelligence every day at the company. ”


As mentioned above, try to see passive aggression as a communication defect that they haven’t been taught to change yet and you need to empathize with their flaws to help each day at work. your softer. It is difficult to sympathize and forgive someone who has always been aggressive with you, but it is worth the effort.

Do you realize through the examples of passive aggression above, do you realize that there is an image of yourself somewhere, both as the aggressor and as the victim of aggression? If so, please share for iDesign How about the experiences of passive aggression in your daily work?

Editorial and General: Thuy Van
Source: Cleveland Clinic

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