We’ve all needed to handle passive aggressiveness eventually. A manager raises a dismissive eyebrow when you speak, or a buddy boxes you out of the discussion at a group breakfast.
But the lines are frequently blurred. I definitely battled with this myself, which is why I invested much of my profession at Harvard investigating body movement and interaction.
I constantly advise taking the high roadway, instead of shooting back or being hostile. Here are 3 indications of passive aggressive or childish habits, and how to react efficiently:
1. Extreme brevity
You send your employer an e-mail asking, “Should we go ahead and schedule a meeting with this potential client?”– and they respond with a curt, one-word response like “yes,” “fine” or “OK.”
Some individuals merely choose to offer brief, to-the-point responses. But if you observe that they’re mainly reacting by doing this to you, and not to others, then this level of brevity may be a sign of passive aggressiveness.
How to react:
- Ask clarifying concerns: “Thanks! What day and time works best for you?” or “Is there anyone else I should invite?”
- Keep your cool: Don’t take the bait. Stay focused in today and prevent acting defensively.
- Use humor: Humor is an excellent method to diffuse stress. You might state, “If we don’t land them as a client, at least we got a free meal on the company!”
- Gently address it: This can be valuable sometimes. The objective is to reveal real intent and a desire to comprehend: “I feel you might be upset with me. Is this right?”
Getting the quiet treatment can appear as postponed e-mails or texts, or perhaps ghosting habits.
Being on the getting end of these actions can activate what I call “timing anxiety,” an extreme concern we feel when we discover ourselves questioning all the possible significances behind the sluggish reactions.
Unfortunately, there are no absolute guidelines to understand for sure if somebody is utilizing silence as an intentional minor, or if it is simply an oversight.
How to react:
- Don’t dive to conclusions. Unless it’s crucial that you get a reply ASAP, bear in mind that you never ever truly understand what somebody is going through. Maybe they have a lot on their plate, or are handling individual problems.
- Send a mild pointer: Some individuals truly forget, so a follow-up can be valuable: “I know you’re very busy. But when you get a chance, I’d love to chat about this.”
- Switch to a various mode of interaction: If you follow up two times without any reaction, attempt sending out a work DM rather of an e-mail. Or visit their workplace if they aren’t addressing their phone.
If you’re texting and emailing with somebody and they alter their tone from casual to official out of no place, it may suggest they are attempting to assert power.
A comparable scenario may be a buddy who is all of a sudden extremely cold or separated in their language over text. For example, going from “Yea, that sounds like fun!” to “Sure, whatever.”
How to react:
- Don’t immediately presume they’re upset with you: It’s simple to leap to the conclusion that you are being singled out, however that’s frequently not the case. In reality, their habits might have absolutely nothing to do with you.
- Reach out by phone, video chat, or face to face: It can be difficult to analyze how somebody truly feels through digital interaction. Reach out in a more personalized method and discuss the source of your stress and anxiety. Don’t be regretful or accusatory. Just be truthful and request explanation. This will assist you develop trust and connection, no matter the range.
Erica Dhawan is a Harvard researcher, keynote speaker and author of “Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance.” She is also the founder and CEO of Cotential, a company that has helped leaders and teams leverage collaboration skills. Follow Erica on Twitter @ericadhawan
Don’t miss out on: