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The department insisted everyone work with them through email. We had to wait for someone to leave the office so we could get in through an open door.The entire pricing department never responded to any email. A coworker in another department was aghast when I explained to her that none of my emails with the pricing department had been answered. We approached the director of the pricing department who was furious that we had entered her secure environment.She then told us that no one could handle our problem because the entire pricing department was on vacation. She told us to get out of her office or she would call security.
And within relationships, passive-aggression can occur. Yet, even in a formal business environment, emotions stir over any number of things—workload, “the big deal,” promotions, respect, and other very personal issues that touch upon an individual’s self-worth.
In the workplace, employees must choose their words with extreme care—making it an ideal environment for passive aggression. The workplace hierarchy may resemble a dysfunctional home environment.
For a child whose primary caregiver was all-powerful and gave the child no recourse for the direct expression of anger, a hierarchical workplace may trigger his or her template for perceiving authority figures as hostile.
Picture the disgruntled supervisee who makes it a point to go over her boss’ head while the boss is away on a business trip, or the spiteful coworker who “accidentally” demotes a colleague in the cc line of a memo as a way of publicly slighting her.
The passive-aggressive employee is always armed with a plausible explanation for such behaviors and is expert in casting himself in the role of victim to any angry accuser.
If confronted, he puts up a good, victim-inspired ﬁght.