Being passive aggressive is the state by which you comply with what is required, but with conscious or subconscious inhibitions or resistance.
Examples of these would include sarcasm, subtle insults, or refusing to do an assigned task well or on time while providing excuses for the failure to do so. A passive aggressive personality does not benefit anyone and rarely is it unnoticed, especially if it affects people around you.
If you are told to have passive-aggressive tendencies or if you yourself categorize yourself as passive aggressive, then know that there are things that you can do to eradicate this behavior. This way, you can turn yourself into a better worker and all around person.
Observe Your Actions and Feelings
Do you notice changes in your tone or a specific thought when talking to someone? Do you have feelings of anxiety or other feelings of negativity when you are about to do a certain task?
Try and notice your specific actions and thoughts throughout the entire day for a couple of weeks, and try to correlate them with specific events that immediately preceded them. Take note that simple facial tics, hand gestures, or subtle changes in your mood or work performance are included in the signs that you are looking for.
By listing this information down, you will be able to notice patterns on when your passive aggressiveness is triggered. It may be possible that you are a bit more cranky right after you are delegated a task, or you tend to be more sarcastic when talking to a co-worker that you do not like.
Once you have realized your triggers as well as your reactions to them, you can now take action to suppress those types of behaviour consciously until they become a habit, or to avoid situations that may trigger your passive aggressive tendencies.
Always try to look at the bright side of things. If you are passive aggressive at work because you feel as if everything is being delegated to you, you can always think of how lucky you are that you are employed and can feed yourself and your family, or that you are a very valuable employee that can be trusted to do the task assigned to you. For toxic co-workers, you can think of them as lonely or lost and that they would greatly benefit from your assistance.
Being optimistic and always looking at the silver lining can really help in altering all those negative emotions and would give you more motivation and positivity. This positive attitude will aid in eliminating that subconscious desire to resist compliance, and it can also infect others around you, making them less of a trigger for you to try to avoid and overcome.
Learn When to Say No
Saying no to a colleague, a family member, or a supervisor is a must, especially if you already have too much on your plate at the moment. It is a sign of assertiveness if done in a non-aggressive way.
If anything else, you can compromise on agreements for a certain task to be done by adjusting the scope of work or the deadlines of deliverables. You can also provide concrete proof on as to why said tasks could not be done such as presenting your daily schedule or workload. You can offer or suggest alternatives as well, such as delegation to someone else just as or more capable than you.
You do not have to say yes to everything as this will cause you to be stressed and not be as productive or effective as both parties would want. Learn to say no in a polite and professional manner and you will see your passive aggressive episodes decrease radically.
Not everyone is out to get you. Not everyone wants you to fail, and maybe you are being assigned tasks that you do not want to do simply because there is no one else that can do it. Sometimes, it is better to stop thinking and to just do.
Rather, ask why something needs to be done and not why it has to be done by you. Having this thought of impartiality can really help in conditioning you to think that there is no bias involved in why things happen the way that they do.
Not overthinking will prevent you from formulating theories in your head that may or may not be true. This is will prevent you from putting the blame, making excuses, or throwing tantrums that, while allowing you to supposedly feel better, will not help in getting the task done.
Passive aggressive behaviour is the main effect of stress that can come from different sources. In whatever form it may be, stress is stress, and removing that from your life is already half the battle won. Take care of yourself more by trying to maintain a stress-free lifestyle.
You can also try and remove pent up aggression by going for a run or doing a few rounds on a punching bag. Study up and perform meditative techniques such as yoga or breathing exercises and you can practically feel your stress melting away.
If all else fails, try and find help from whatever source you can find. This can be a trusted colleague, a manager, or a wizened family member. Talk about your problems and have them suggest ways on how you can overcome them. You can also get some psychiatric help from a professional that can suggest ways on how to correct your passive aggressive behaviour.
Being passive aggressive does not help anyone, yourself included. As such, you should definitely make it a point to correct this type of behavior for the benefit of everyone around you. Identifying the problem and admitting your shortcomings is the first step towards correcting passive aggressiveness.
By following the steps mentioned, you will definitely be able to turn passive aggressive behaviour into something that is much more positive in nature, improving your general well-being, your social interactions with friends, family, and co-workers, as well as your overall performance in the workplace.