How Do I Communicate With A Passive Agressive Supervisor?

Trying to learn how to communicate with a passive aggressive supervisor can be stressful, frustrating, and lower workplace morale. Although it may be tempting to mimic your supervisor’s behavior and respond in kind with passive aggressive gestures, resist the temptation. Behave professionally and communicate your needs to your supervisor.  If you are met with more passive aggression and hostility, bring your supervisor’s behavior to the attention of his superior.

  1. Be assertive. Communicate your ideas and questions to your passive aggressive supervisor in a clear and unequivocal manner. Avoiding communication with your passive aggress supervisor will not improve the situation.
  2. Stay professional. When your supervisor makes a passive aggressive remark, try to focus on the task at hand, not his delivery style. Engaging her in a war of passive-aggression will do nothing to help the situation.
  3. Create a paper trail. Whenever possible, communicate with your passive aggressive supervisor through email or written memos. This will give you documentation of his behavior that you can present to a higher-up in the company if her behavior does not improve.
  4. Ask for feedback. Instead of backing away from passive aggressive remarks, use them as an opportunity to know where you stand. Confront the remark directly and ask if there is anything you can do to improve your work habits or office performance.
  5. Get witnesses. Often, what one person perceives as passive aggressive behavior, another will see as acceptable workplace communication. Before you escalate the situation and report your passive aggressive supervisor to a higher authority, talk to your co-workers and see if they have had similar experiences with your boss.
  6. Present your evidence to a higher-up in the company. If your passive aggressive supervisor interferes with your productivity and creates an intimidating work environment, present your evidence to his boss. Be objective and constructive, using specific examples of how your supervisor’s passive aggressive behavior is making it difficult to do your job.  
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