From time to time, I've decided I will present some excerpts from my book on passive-aggressive bosses in my blog posts. As I've mentioned previously, I've gotten a fair amount of feedback and comments on my book, which tells me that the problem of passive-aggressive bosses in the workplace is a fairly widespread problem. So why not share some of my views with you, and hopefully you will share yours with me and with others. The problem needs to be 'aired' in the workplace and talked about. My new question is the following: is this a managerial survival mechanism? Has the modern workplace become so complicated and confusing that these are the tactics that bosses must adopt in order to survive? If so, it speaks badly for the future of modern workplaces. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Blindsided--Recognizing and Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Leadership in the Workplace (these are just a few of the traits I have listed and discussed: http://www.amazon.com/Blindsided-Recognizing-Dealing-Passive-Aggressive-Leadership-Workplace/dp/1442159200/ref=tmm_pap_title_0).
How do you feel at the hands of a passive-aggressive boss or co-worker? The word “blindsided” comes to mind. The definition of blindside is “to hit unexpectedly from or as if from the blind side; to surprise unpleasantly”
blindsided). Thus blindsided describes how one might feel
when dealing with a passive-aggressive boss. How many times have you come away
from meetings or interactions with a boss or another co-worker, feeling as
though you have been hit by a car that came out of nowhere? You just didn’t see
it coming. How many times have you been the butt of a joke that isn’t funny or
the recipient of undeserved comments, sarcasm and put-downs, and how many times
have you wondered about the reason for this behavior? How many times have you
ended up feeling used, duped, stabbed in the back, or the victim of dishonest
behavior? How many times have you heard that same boss or co-worker describe
himself or herself as a nice person (translated--one
who tries to help others all the time, never says no to any request, tries to
avoid conflict at all costs, one who wants to be liked by all, is not
aggressive, never gets angry, is not tyrannical, is not verbally or physically
A summary of some of the attitudes and behaviors that characterize passive-aggressive bosses
is presented in the next section. Using the traits and behaviors summarized here,
I hope it will become somewhat easier to identify what some might call fairly
typical behavior in the workplace as passive-aggressive behavior.
Attitudes/personality traits and corresponding behaviors/patterns of behavior in passive-aggressive leaders
1. Dishonest communicators
Communication with employees is not direct or honest but rather indirect, dishonest, and ambiguous. Employees never get a clear sense of what was discussed, what conclusion was reached, what is expected of them, or what future strategy or plan was outlined. These types of bosses can talk non-stop but little of what they communicate is useful for employees or even remembered by the leaders themselves at future meetings. These leaders are poor listeners and poor communicators. They behave in an indecisive and impulsive manner, are forgetful, lack focus, and are unable to think long-term or systematically. They lack the skills needed to create an organized and rational plan of action for their employees.
These types of leaders say one thing and then do the other. They change their minds frequently and cannot take a decisive stand on an issue. They forget what was decided upon, which confuses and frustrates those who prefer working with rational thinkers and leaders with the ability to strategize and make long-term plans.
Passive-aggressive leaders dislike conflicts, arguments, disagreements, overt shows of anger, or confrontations. They become uncomfortable or embarrassed by shows of emotion, especially anger. It is possible to recognize anger in them as their faces will redden when confronted and when they are told things they do not like to hear, but otherwise they rarely exhibit overt anger. They view themselves as diplomatic individuals, and many of them have an obsessive need to be well-liked or seen as nice people. They dislike being confronted or having their opinions challenged, but seldom respond with overt anger. Instead they will ‘punish’ employees who initiate discussions or debates
(seen as conflicts or arguments).