DiscoverCoaching for Leaders595: How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive People, Amy Gallo
595: How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive People, Amy Gallo

595: How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive People, Amy Gallo

Update: 2022-09-196
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Amy Gallo: Getting Along

Amy Gallo is an expert in conflict, communication, and workplace dynamics. She combines the latest management research with practical advice to deliver evidence-based ideas on how to improve relationships and excel at work. In her role as a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, Amy writes about interpersonal dynamics, communicating ideas, leading and influencing people, and building your career.



Amy is co-host of HBR's Women at Work podcast and author of both the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict and Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)*.



In this conversation, Amy and I discuss one of the most common questions she receives from leaders: how do I handle a colleague who’s passive aggressive? We examine what causes this behavior, how to respond to it, and what to avoid that could worsen the relationship. Plus, we discuss the intention that leaders can bring in responding to passive-aggressive behavior that will help everybody move forward.

Key Points



Don’t use the “passive-aggressive behavior” to label someone. It rarely helps and often results in more defensiveness.

Focus on the other person’s underlying concern or question rather than how they are expressing it. Not everyone is able to discuss thoughts and feelings openly.

Consider doing hypothesis testing to determine what’s next. Language like, “Here’s the story I’m telling myself…” can help everyone move forward without assigning blame.

When making a direct request, stick to the facts. Review past behavior like you’re a referee vs. a fan.

Artificial harmony is a danger spot for teams and leaders. Setting norms can help to reduce passive-aggressive behavior.



Resources Mentioned



Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)* by Amy Gallo



Interview Notes

Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required).

Related Episodes



The Way to Have Conversations That Matter, with Celeste Headlee (episode 344)

Four Habits That Derail Listening, with Oscar Trimboli (episode 500)

How to Prepare for Conflict, with Amy Gallo (episode 530)

The Way to Get People Talking, with Andrew Warner (episode 560)



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595: How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive People, Amy Gallo

595: How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive People, Amy Gallo

Dave Stachowiak with Amy Gallo