Remote work has quickly become a natural part of our culture. The pandemic has forever changed the workplace. And while that has had both it’s ups and downs, remote work in many ways has imitated in-person office life.

In the remote world, one of the things that has continued to exist is crappy co-worker behavior. According to the medical practice and research group Mayo Clinic, passive-aggressive people tend to express their negative feelings harmfully, but indirectly. Instead of dealing with issues, they behave in ways that veil their hostility and mask their discontent.

Passive aggressive behavior has always been an element of toxic work life. Unfortunately, this has not stopped in the remote setting. Here is what to do if you have a passive aggressive co-worker.

Call It Out

One of the most effective ways to deal with a person who is toxic and passive aggressive is to professionally call it out. Many people who don’t like to communicate directly and assertively find unnecessary ways to “express” their displeasure by being unnecessarily mean-spirited. Addressing their behavior directly is the best way to get to the bottom of the issue and also stand up for yourself.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio

Be Calm, But Firm

When a person is passive aggressive, they can also become defensive. In addition to calling out the behavior, it is important to remain calm. Reacting emotionally can escalate the situation and make things worse. Speaking directly to your aggressor in a calm, measured tone is most effective.

While it is important to use a calm tone, it is also a great idea to be firm and unwavering in your stance so that you don’t get manipulated.

Photo by Christina Morillo
Photo Credit: Christina Morillo

Don’t Get Offended

Controlling emotions can be tricky, because we are emotional beings. Passive-aggressive behavior usually tells more about the person’s behavior, not yours. If you become offended, then the passive aggressive person wins. Regardless of how you feel, try not to take it personally.


Photo by Christina Morillo
Photo Credit: Christina Morillo

Have A Plan

In today’s world, there are multiple opportunities to improve and get to a higher level.  If your co worker is getting increasingly obnoxious, then it is a smart idea to reevaluate whether that work environment is right for you. Your mental health is very important, and no drama is worth your peace of mind. Mapping out a strategy about how to handle the poor behavior and your next plan of action is important.