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Dear Anna,

I have received feedback that I need to stop being “passive aggressive”. What does that mean and how do I respond to it?

Passive aggressive is short hand for a pattern of behaviour that avoids confrontation. Taking action will require you to really be straight with yourself about what you do and don’t do in different situations. Start by considering these three components and building a simple list of things to stop doing and start doing.  

1. Deliberate inaction

How frequently do you find yourself deliberately not doing something you said you would do? Going slow on something because you don’t believe in it, or because you don’t like the person asking you to do it, is a passive aggressive behaviour. Avoiding confrontation by being busy or hard to contact are also forms of inaction. After agreement has been reached that you or your team will do something, play your part or your inaction will be taken as subtle rebellion. If you are genuinely too busy, let people know and find another way to keep your commitments.

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