By Marc Wilson
Marc is a partner at Global Advisors and based in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Everybody knows the behaviour. We all experience it from others and all of us will be guilty of it at one time or another.

The sulky silence, the acquiescent “Yes,” the reserved feedback, the withheld compliment, not accepting compliments, the refusal to participate, minimum acceptable effort, sarcasm, put-downs, “forgetting,” lying, procrastinating – they’re all examples of passive aggressive behaviour. It is the cancer eating at your relationships with your significant other, your co-workers, your friends and your family.

If you are a leader it is the cancer eating at your organisation.

Maybe passive aggressive behaviour exists to an even greater extent in relationships we are committed to – our families will still be family, our spouses are married to us for better or worse. It allows the behaviour to continue to a far greater extent than an acquaintance might.

In most ways, passive aggressiveness is worse than outright aggression. An argument can be resolved, criticism understood and anger or sadness worked on and resolved. Passive aggression invites no constructive response and escalates rather than resolves issues.

Maybe passive aggressiveness starts through unspoken anger, resentment or sadness. Maybe it starts from fear and being disempowered. Maybe from a lack of caring enough to…



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