Passive Aggressive Anger can by used by controlling employees to thwart a manager and vice versa.

Initially, I saw Jason’s passive aggression as assertiveness, which it was to some extent, so there may be an underlying connection between assertiveness and healthy passive aggression, although I think it is better, if possible, to openly state your anger. He also had the cushion of his decision to pursue a profession in a different area. What follows after such intense and sustained provocation is a clear cut and excellent example of reactive passive aggression.

“My attitude towards work completely changed. I pretty much gave management the two fingers. I decided I wouldn’t give a toss about work and just concentrate on preparing for my new direction. This was going to be my career, and not just a job like in the building society. I would go to work each day and do my work and head home. I wouldn’t get involved in anything that wasn’t to do with my immediate work and do the bare minimum. If I was loaded with a heavy timetable I would tell management that there must be some mistake, that surely I couldn’t possibly be expected to do so much work. If they said I was, I would just say that’s fine but expect things to be late. Things that I mostly knew how to do, I now looked for proper training, or told them I didn’t know how to do that work because I was not trained in it. This created a bad relationship between me and management, but I didn’t care. I had given them my all before and I felt it was thrown back in my face, so this was my new tactic. I took a back seat in areas where I was the leader before; tasks that I had a sound knowledge of. I would do my bit and help some of the lads, but that would be it. At one stage, one of the girls on the same level as me, who was anxious for promotion, was asked by a new Assistant Supervisor to train the rest of us on a few tasks. Months earlier I had trained her on these, but I just sat there, not even hiding my disinterest as she tried to teach me things that I had done many times before. I didn’t give a toss and made my disinterest and displeasure towards work known with my body language. It came to a stage where management were nearly afraid to ask me to do work, which suited me just fine. Because I was still one of the strongest members of the team, they couldn’t get rid of me, especially as others on the team had made a few high profile mistakes. In fact they tried to accommodate me more, as long as I worked harder. I told them I would, but continued my laissez faire approach to work. This continued for months with my distain for management clear…. I had the odd meeting about my attitude and not doing enough, but my response was always that I was still doing more than everyone on the team and my standard of work was good. They couldn’t argue with this so there was a stalemate. It suited me fine because it was just a wage to me now. The lads would slap me saying I was the enfant terrible of the office, but I didn’t mind”

In some cases passive aggressive employees in key positions withhold particular expertise from management, who are normally unaware of what may be happening. Occasionally employees may use a so-called illness to express passive aggressive anger in the workplace, and can, for example, refuse to attend meetings because of a particular ‘illness’. But, managers or proprietors are more likely to subject others to passive aggressive anger, because they have power.

Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018

Posted in anger