How Do You Deal With A Passive-Aggressive Boss?

How Do You Deal With A Passive-Aggressive Boss?

Nobody likes getting berated for doing something wrong on the job, but it’s even worse when your boss is passive-aggressive about it and doesn’t have an official conversation with you about your mistakes. How do you deal with a passive-aggressive boss?

Picture: Paul Downey/Flickr

Whether your boss is just leaving notes on your desk or yelling at you through passive-agressive emails, we want to know how you deal with your boss. Do you respond to those notes or emails? Or do you just shrug them off?


  • Heh i’m one of these ironically, I far prefer to discuss such issues via email than verbally because it can be much more clear and concise than getting into an argument about it – but I also always follow it up by talking to them 1 on 1 about it when they’re working next and explaining that it’s about teamwork not an error on any specific persons behalf.

    • The other benefit to email is that you have a paper trail, so you can look back on it in 6 months time if the employee says “you never told me that”. I do agree that it is better to have a conversation (face to face) in addition, though.

  • Quote “discuss such issues via email than verbally because it can be much more clear and concise” unquote.
    There’s the problem, right there! Thinks problems can be dealt with by email rather than face to face. Poor leadership

    • There’s no internal logic to that. I’d very much like to hear more, because it’s clear you have a strong opinion on the topic.

      However, ‘statement’ ‘counterstatement’ ‘conclusion’ isn’t helpful. WHY is that poor leadership? How should the poster above conduct themselves? Why is that better?

  • In my world, people use email to create a paper trail when they want to blame someone later for something done incorrectly or not at all. They use conversation (perhaps augmented with an email stating key details that might be forgotten or are complex enough that correct communication is difficult in a simple convo) to communicate about issues, though.

    What an issue mentioned to me in email says to me is, “communicator lacks balls or appropriate skill, or is trying to set me up for a failure”, and alarm bells go off, raising my stress level. Sure, it’s nice that a manager can reduce their own stress level by having conversations they’re not comfortable having in person, via email, but really, it doesn’t leave a good impression on many workers particularly when it IS a situation of them having done something wrong. And it in turn raises the WORKER’s stress levels. I was taught not to do that in intro management classes at a former employer. Sometimes face to face communication can get confrontational. Oh well. There are techniques you can learn to work within that.

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