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Insights: How to Work with Passive Aggressive Colleagues

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Submitted by: WISE NYC Metro member | 15+ years professional experience

I am breaking into a new job that was previously done by a small group of men who feel like I am stepping on their toes and react with passive aggressiveness. What can I do to make them feel less threatened and be more cooperative?


It actually isn't your job to make them feel less threatened by your being in the role that they once held. You should instead treat them professionally, ask them for whatever information you need to do your job and then get it done.

  • Set deadlines on the information you need from them (if that’s the case)
  • Make sure any requests are clear
  • Ensure requests are both verbal and in writing (where appropriate).

If they continue to be slow with responses that impact your ability to meet deadlines or ignore requests, then you should raise this with your manager. Do it professionally, with notes of requests made, timelines given, etc. and ask your manager to advise the best way to approach this.

If your role has no interaction with them on a professional level (i.e. you don’t need to work together on projects or are not dependent on them for information), then simply go about your day. Chances are you are not the first person they have done this to. Most importantly, remain calm and professional.

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Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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