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Passive-Aggressiveness Is Killing Workplace Productivity
If you live in Minnesota, you know most of us are pretty hardcore when it comes to weather. The current forecast says the daily highs will barely graze the single digits until next week. Surviving frigid winters is a badge of honor, and many of us find ways to embrace it through sports and other fun outdoor activities.
Our fierce attitude toward Old Man Winter is in stark contrast to our reputation for being “Minnesota Nice.” Even in the workplace, being passive-aggressive is too often the go-to strategy when dealing with clients and coworkers.
Over the holidays I realized this can really affect us in a negative way. While celebrating with my brother, he said one of the reasons he would never move back to Minnesota is because of how passive-aggressive people are and how utterly unproductive that tendency is. No, it isn’t the cold winters that topped his list of reasons to stay away; it’s our behaviors!
Women in general can easily fall into the passive-aggressive trap. We say “sorry” too often, we worry about hurting people’s feelings, and we struggle with being direct. Some of this might be inherent, but much of it is because of societal expectations and dated social mores.
Check out “9 hilariously non-threatening leadership strategies for women,” a tongue-in-cheek article published by everydayfeminism.com. Each meme presents a threatening and non-threatening alternative. For example, if you’re setting a deadline for an employee, rather than saying “This is due on Monday,” ask the question “What do you think of getting this done by Monday?”
While it’s easy to laugh at articles like these, it’s not funny that this is the reality for so many women. We feel we must act a certain way as to not come off as bossy (and, you know, that other B word). It’s become so ingrained that some of us communicate like this without even realizing it. As my brother pointed out, it wastes time, causes confusion and certainly doesn’t move the needle forward for workplace equality.
So my mini New Year’s resolution is to be aware of how I’m communicating with my colleagues and work on being more direct. When something can be said in an eight-word email, it doesn’t require a whole paragraph. Being clear and concise is essential to avoid miscommunication and keep things buzzing forward. It may not be the stereotypical Minnesota way, but it’s going to be my way from now on.
I encourage other women and men to do the same. Research shows it’s beneficial in your personal life as well as your professional one. I can certainly think of a few times I told my spouse something and the conversation became so convoluted that the one point I wanted to make didn’t get through. Same goes with kids, too.
What’s your take? Are you seeing passive aggressive behavior in your office? How do you deal with it?