How to Deal with Passive Aggressive Coworkers



Can’t stand your passive aggressive coworker or boss? Me too. Passive aggressive behavior surfaces everywhere, not just in the workplace. It can be experiences in friendships, at home, and even during rush hour traffic. In fact, sometimes we are the ones being passive aggressive!


Passive Aggressive Coworker


Trying to remain professional with a passive aggressive coworker in the 9-5 corporate world is no easy task. After a decade of working in Corporate America, I can say with first hand experience that the office setting is like a playground for cognitive dissonance.


At one point, a colleague jokingly nicknamed me The Pitbull. Although she was joking, there was some truth behind it. I was friendly but if someone crossed a line, I did not hold back on sending some nasty-grams. No doubt, the bcc line was put to use.


Not my proudest moments.


Once a colleague spoke to a manager about switching desks with me. The colleague was more senior than me and rightfully deserved her preferred desk. My desk. Next to the window.


During the desk switch, she told everyone that the switch would help me be more integrated with the rest of the office. No one bought it.


But hey, if she truthfully said she wanted my desk because it was next to the window, she would come across as mean girl. So she stuck with the fig leaf.


After switching desks, she had not yet told others her new desk phone number. Her phone was ringing throughout the morning. I had enough. So I picked up her calls and hung up without saying a word.


That’s Eve the Pitbull at the worst. She eventually found out what I was doing and called me out on it. I admit I was in the wrong. I let all the frustration from the desk switch and incessant phone calls get the best of me.


Over time, Eve the Pitbull learned to take the high road.


Working next to someone who is using the office place as an outlet to unleash their personal issues is never fun. But there’s no excuse for bad behavior.


We all have a lot going on in our personal life. When under a lot of stress, sometimes it can seep into our professional life. Sometimes, it’s us but other times it’s the people we work with that are letting their personal life dramas interfere with their work life.


Even trying to understand their personal challenges does not excuse them for their negative behavior. There are many ways to turn the negative vibes into positive fuel.


Determine the end goal.


Rather than striking back, there’s an easier and more effective way to deal with passive aggressive behavior. In order to stand up for yourself, first have a clear goal in mind.



Being reactive is normal. But before reacting to the situation, ask yourself what your goal is. Is your ultimate goal to get the heck out of the toxic work environment? Keep your job and try to survive the day to day office politics?


If so, there’s no need to win every battle.


Easier said than done? Nope. Standing up for yourself does not necessarily mean you have to fight back. No girl, that’s the hard way to go about it.


So keep the gloves on.


Be strategic about it. Trying to prove a point or win every single battle gets you caught up in the rat race. Instead, save yourself the time and energy by taking the high road.


It’s easy to confuse taking the high road as being a doormat. But taking the high road does not entail being a pushover. Let me explain…


The truth prevails much faster when you take the high road.


One time, I worked with a passive aggressive coworker who enjoyed pointing out other colleagues’ mistakes. It was a power trip for her.


She would point out various issues and bring it up to the boss. Unfortunately for her, the issues she brought up only showed how much she misunderstood the work.


Each time she pointed out an issue with me, I explained to her my point of view. In fact, I would let her have the last word in all the emails. Boy did she like that!


Let crazy, be crazy.


As she continued to have her power trip and cc the bosses in emails, I was reaching my breaking point. Fortunately, so did the bosses.


After having multiple coworkers complain about her behavior and with the emails to back it up, one of the senior managers spoke to her about harassment. As you can imagine, she was shocked.


She thought she was “winning” all the little battles but ultimately she lost the war. Her own war that she created in the first place.


Still finding it hard to keep it classy?


I hear you. I’m an Aries and an empath. Honestly, sometimes I thrive on being reactive.

If you’ve given it your all to remain professional and are still feeling heavy, take a step back. Perhaps you’ve reached your wits end. Then maybe it is time to move on.


After a decade of dabbling in different career paths, I realized a 9-5 job was simply not for me. It all started when I couldn’t stand one too many passive aggressive coworkers that I began thinking about a career with more job autonomy.


I used the toxic work environment as a motivator to get the heck out of the rat race. Specifically, I created multiple streams of income to speed up my journey to financial independence.


Don’t get me wrong, I still deal with passive aggressive behavior outside of an office setting. The point is, I’m living proof that achieving financial independence is possible at any age.


Even though I was able achieve financial independence in my 30’s, I knew that I would always want to be doing some sort of meaningful work. That’s what lead me to start Not A Bond Girl as a creative outlet.


Create an exit strategy.


Focusing on an exit strategy can help to detach from workplace drama. Even if you never do use the exit strategy, at least it can help ease the tension of feeling stuck. Here was my exit strategy that allowed me to quit my 9-5 job.


Besides applying for a new job, get creative. There are many ways to have a side hustle these days. I had fun trying out different side gigs. Eventually, I narrowed it down to focus on creating passive income to achieve financial freedom.


Need support with your exit strategy?


Pivot your career to align with your ideal lifestyle. After all, having a fulfilling career can be a big part of living a meaningful life.


Changing jobs within the same industry can be challenging. Pivoting to a new industry can be even tougher and take longer.


So what do you do to shorten the lengthy process of job searching?


Step aside, James Bond. Allow me to handle this question with a Pintastic solution.


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