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March 27, 2015

Say What you Think!

Caroline Smith

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I was looking after my eight-year-old nephew last weekend, and I’d love to say it was a pleasure but it wasn't!

His parents had gone out for the night on their own, trusting me and my partner to look after him for the evening. As non-parents, this was a big deal for us and we’d bought various jigsaws and board games to keep him amused.

It started off well enough. We ordered in pizza, and ate it while we watched some TV and he played on his iPad. After a while, we suggested playing a game, but he could barely tear himself away from his device. “Come on,” I tried to coax. “It’ll be fun!” But he shook his head, mumbled something, and went back to his screen. “I’m not having this,” I thought, so I gently prised the iPad away from him and told him that he wasn’t going to be glued to it all night.

This did not go down well.

First, he told us he had promised his mom he would phone her that evening by using Skype on his iPad, so he went off to the next room to do so. After 20 minutes, he’d still not returned so I went to find him. And there he was, sitting on the bed, playing the same game he’d been addicted to during dinner. He hadn’t gone to call her at all! “Right, come on,” I said, and took the device from him again. “I’m confiscating this, and we’re going to play a fun game.” So I hid it in another room.

Rather than accepting this (or arguing against the decision), he did what I think is even worse: he sulked. But he didn’t just sulk; he did everything he could to ruin the game we played. He stopped speaking, only communicating by shaking or nodding his head. Then he kept "accidentally" knocking the pieces over on the board, which meant we had to keep stopping play. And when he did finally say something, he deliberately gave the wrong answers as a protest to having to play. It was terrible!

In the end, I lost my temper and told him that if he didn’t buck his ideas up, he would go to bed early, which soon snapped him out of his mood. (Although – being highly competitive – I had to remember my own advice when I got beaten in straight sets by him during the next game!)

My nephew, who has since apologized, was displaying behavior that you could describe as passive aggressive. Yes, he’s only young, and you almost expect a bit of sulking at that age, but it can become problematic if you don’t nip it in the bud. Children need to be encouraged to be open and honest with their feelings and to address problems head on, rather than keeping anger inside, otherwise it can lead to difficulties in later life.

Today’s article is all about how to manage passive aggressive team mates - passive aggression is a behavior that can be toxic in a work environment. We look at how you can identify it in others and some strategies for dealing with it.

If you’ve got any top tips on how to recognize or deal with passive aggressive behavior at work, join in the discussion below!

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