There’s a vibe in editing of “fuck passive voice!” Let’s take that to “fuck passive aggression!”
If there was a theme in my 2012, it was “Passive aggression kills relationships.” So it feels appropriate to talk about that in what I want in my 2013. There are people who wield passive aggression and airs of hostility without direct confrontation like cudgels. They tend to get what they want…barely, and grow resentful that it’s just barely, and because there’s no direct communication, the cycle perpetuates.
At least, until it comes to a head and friendships & working relationships are severed.
Join me in removing passive aggression from your working life:
- If someone’s only engaging difficult issues with you via asynchronous text (like email, Facebook, or the classic post-it note), respond in a better medium. Being able to talk in real-time helps identify problem issues sooner, rather than having them fester. And if you can use voice communication, then you hear the other’s tone rather than assume it. Of course, video or face-to-face would be even better for difficult issues.
- Don’t post such indirect messages on public feeds (like Twitter of Facebook) having to do with people you work with. So you’ve got a writer who’s late? There is no percentage in posting something like “Man, why do people not understand what ‘deadline’ means?” If the people you’re passive-aggressively posting about sees it, does he really have a strong incentive to do good work for you?
The answer is: no. There’s no special reason to do quality work for people who bring hostility.
- Try to bring a brighter edge to your communication, and maybe it’ll help others either think to be better people or just overall improve mood.
- If there’s no solution — if talking doesn’t help and if the hostility just increases over time — that’s a toxic relationship. Quit or fire that person; don’t tolerate such people in your life. Those people thrive on such tolerance and abuse it.
That last point bears a special mention. Everyone will be passive aggressive on occasion. Shit happens. Don’t can someone for a slip-up. But if you’re in a cycle, stop it somehow. I’ve seen people cry, shout, and rage-quit because of such shitty treatment. Don’t let yourself be in that situation.
And for those who cause it: if you want to keep good people in your employ, find functional ways of dealing with people — otherwise, you’re either going to cause them to leave or they’ll stick around have do the barely amount of quality work they can get away with.
 Which is to say, my life as a government worker.