How to challenge passive-aggressive behavior (video transcript)

There’s something called the Queen Bee syndrome, where there is actually some evidence, it’s getting dated now. And I think that Kristin Stewart kind of era, the Sheryl Sandberg era is going to end that. But there was some data that, that pointed to the fact that, you know women who got to the top would actually attack others.

That keeping their status, because they were such special creatures then in those days, when they were tokens, when there were very few of them, to keep that status they actually needed to keep others from achieving it. So as a queen bee, make sure that there’s no challengers. So that sort of thing.

So again, that’s pretty animaly kind of stuff. In terms of, you know, I’d rather talk about what do we do about it? And I think what we do is we engage each other. We are getting so many good role models now for that. I think one of the big problems for women is the passive-aggressive behavior.

So does anybody, guys, you can say yes, if you do it too. But did anybody have a mom or a grandmom who said, if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all, until we’re in the car. So, I think that’s one of the real challenges is that we’re taught from really young age that ladylike behavior is not to, you know, say anything nasty about someone or even, or even to criticize. That’s not ladylike… until we’re in the car.

And, and so passive-aggressive behavior is very inculcated in how we’re raised. I’m desperately trying with two young daughters to just not do that and to teach them, you know, if you have something to say that’s constructive to your friend, to your teacher, to me, please say it.

Stop with this, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. But that was really strongly beat into me, along with a few other of those golden rule type things. So I think that’s one of the problems.

If we could, if we could really teach people that it’s much nicer to actually confront an issue, to talk about it to get it in the open, we would get rid of a lot of that passive-aggressive female behavior that’s really.

On my Change Your Team website, I have this great poster you can print out for free about how to stop passive-aggressive behavior. It’s tips on if you’ve got a lot of passive-aggressiveness in your team, how to actually short circuit it. So that might be helpful.

– [Woman] That would, that’s on my list of questions to ask you is about people being passive-aggressive.

– Yeah.

– [Woman] We did an exercise at my house we started it about a year ago. I said, you know what? I’m really tired of all this. Let’s just point out passive-aggressive behavior every time we see it.

– Yeah.

– [Woman] It was embarrassing how quickly we got up to double digits where I thought oh my goodness, like, we can’t have a normal conversation without there being some kind of passive-aggressive behavior there.

– Yeah, sarcasm in the boardroom.

– [Woman] Yes.

– Sort of the female tendency is the passive-aggressive in the bathroom cattiness. The male version of the exact same thing is sarcasm. It’s like I’m going to cut you down. I’m going to get in a line at your expense in this meeting, you’re going to look like an idiot.

– So we have our own versions of it. And you know, not to say that all women do one or all men do the other, Women are learning to do sarcasm too. We’re kind of all going to the lowest common denominator.

More on this

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How to deal with passive aggressive people

Dysfunctional Behavior in Disguise