How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss – 13 Strategies

Written By Aleena

If you’re unlucky enough to have such a boss, there are a few ways to learn how to work with a passive-aggressive boss.

A passive-aggressive boss is difficult to deal with and understand. Below we will also share the signs of such a boss and recognize them.

How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss – 13 Strategies To Use

A passive-aggressive boss expresses negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. Use the following 13 strategies to work with such a boss:

1. Get To Know Your Boss:

Understand your boss’s personality to be able to work with a passive-aggressive.

Not all personalities are compatible, but you can work with some. Find ways to work with all types of characters.

2. Communicate Effectively:

Learn how to communicate when working with a passive-aggressive boss.

Be open and talk about feelings. Try to void interruptions or separate yourself from them emotionally.

how to work with passive aggressive boss

For example, don’t take discussions personally. Because such discussions often remain impersonal towards their colleagues.

If you feel overwhelmed, ask questions about what your boss expects of you.

Also, know when and how to raise your voice. But, try not to deliver the wrong message, which might even be a hurdle in achieving objectives.

3. Set Boundaries:

Set boundaries to give yourself a sense of control and personal space.

For example, don’t let your boss’s passive-aggressiveness affect you personally.

Draw a line between their behavior toward you and your professional capability.

4. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Speak Up:

Speak up if the passive-aggressive boss says something inappropriate while others are around. Do not let it go by to create more tension in the office.

Stand your ground if necessary and keep moving forward to achieve goals. Do not let pressure from such bosses affect your work.

Be patient and forgiving because they might be going through some challenges.

5. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Don’t React Or Engage:

Don’t show that you’re affected by their indirectness. Reacting to your boss’s passive-aggressiveness will give them more power.

Also, like with other personalities, don’t engage in an argument about the situation. In other words, try not to escalate things further.

6. Don’t Take It Personally:

Remember that your boss is not showing this behavior towards you.

react to boss

It’s about how they use indirect methods to control others and communicate with them.

7. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Find Similarities:

Similarities in interests between your boss and yourself help create a bond. Such a bond can lead to improved work relationships.

It is productive when working with such a boss becomes unbearable.`

8. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Take Responsibility:

Take Responsibility for your role in the situation, don’t blame yourself or your boss.

You can choose to accept whatever comes your way while holding on to who you are and what your beliefs are.

9. Focus On What You Can Change:

Remember that there might be things that you cannot change about the situation.

However, there are some things which you can control no matter how difficult they seem.

For example, take a breather if needed and find ways to manage stress at work better.

You can also develop your interpersonal skills to manage challenging situations at work.

10. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Get Support:

A support network can help work with a passive-aggressive boss.

therapy to learn how to work with passive aggressive boss

Your family and friends might be the best people to seek an objective opinion or advice.

Find someone who understands your situation and has dealt with similar issues before. They can share ideas on how to focus on achieving goals through such challenges.

11. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Stay Positive:

To conclude, you can choose to find humor in such situations and hope for the best.

They say laughter is more accessible than crying. Thus, join your colleagues to discuss funny experiences working with a passive-aggressive boss.

Remember that this personality type can be very draining emotionally. Therefore, try to deal with different bosses accordingly.

12. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Seek Professional Help:

If the passive-aggressive behavior is too much to handle, seek professional help.

Some counselors help people deal with difficult bosses at work.

You don’t have to go through this by yourself. There are resources available that can assist in making the situation better.

13. How To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss- Be Assertive:

Last but not least, if things escalate and become too much to handle, be assertive.

It means communicating your needs effectively and standing up for yourself.

It’s okay to set boundaries to protect yourself from further abuse.

Remember that your health and well-being matter more than anything. Therefore, do everything to keep yourself from workplace drama.

Trying to keep the peace when it’s impossible is not worth your emotional health.

Signs Of A Passive Aggressive Boss:

There are some signs you can spot. Recognize them as soon as possible to take remedies:

Easy Signs To Understand:

1. They often use sarcasm and give back-handed compliments.

2. They have closed body language, and their tone of voice is unpleasant and rude.

3. They tend to ignore your issues and brush them off as if they don’t matter.

4. Lookout for uncooperative behavior such as having a ‘my way or the highway attitude.

5. Lack of empathy creates barriers between you, your boss, and other people around you.

6. They tend to blame others for things that are not their fault, even when there’s proof otherwise.

7. They make promises and don’t deliver, creating distrust in the workplace.

8. They like to play games by creating situations where you’re forced to guess what they mean or want from you.

blame others

9. Their passive-aggressive behavior is towards people who challenge them.

10. They criticize others when under pressure and not getting their way.

Difficult Signs To Understand:

11. They withdraw and don’t communicate when feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

12. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around them and always in fear of doing something wrong.

13. They make you feel crazy, guilty, anxious, or stressed for no reason at all.

14. You’ve tried different methods to communicate with them, but nothing works.

15. Your boss is sensitive about their mistakes. In other words, they try to blame others for things.

16. They like the power position in the office and make sure everyone knows it.

power by boss

17. They like to focus on small, unimportant details of situations. Hence they ignore significant issues that need attention.

18. They drain your energy. You always have to think about what’s going on in your boss’s mind.

Likewise, you have to think about how they’ll react to choices you make or things you say next.

19. They use manipulation tactics such as playing the victim role. Speaking badly about people behind their back is also what such bosses do.

They undermine others’ work to get ahead or look better than you in some way is also a part of it.

20. They lack empathy. Such bosses disconnect from others, especially when angry or sad. They avoid personal responsibility too much.

5 Interpersonal Skills Necessary To Work With A Passive Aggressive Boss:

Master interpersonal skills and work effectively with such a boss:

1. Communication Skills:

In a passive-aggressive relationship, communication is poor, and there are no open conversations.

You have to speak up if something feels off or strange to you. You can create a friendly environment where your boss will feel comfortable with you.

2. Leadership Skills:

You should find ways to take part in every decision-making process if possible. Take the lead of the project by performing the best.

Ask questions about your projects, and don’t be afraid to go back with questions if necessary.

3. Problem-Solving Skills:

Your boss likely has the ‘my way or the highway attitude.

solve problems

To get things done, you need to solve problems and come up with alternate solutions.

It needs flexibility on your part, but it’s good to maintain a good working relationship.

4. Conflict Resolution Skills:

Conflict is a natural part of any workplace. However, it’s handled poorly or avoided in a passive-aggressive relationship altogether.

You need to identify the problem and understand your boss’s perspective. Try to communicate your feelings in a clear and relaxed manner.

5. Ability To Handle Criticism:

There will be criticism in every job, so you have to learn how to handle it well. Notice the difference between constructive feedback and destructive criticism.

If you’re not sure, ask for clarification from your boss before moving forward with a project.

How To Stop Yourself From Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Learn to handle your emotions in a better way than you do now.

Often people take part in such behavior out of fear of losing control over their feelings.

When you feel uncomfortable, try different ways to communicate it positively.

For example, if anxiety about an upcoming deadline is too much, ask for help. In other words, do not get frustrated and act out by ignoring people around you.

Making deadlines can be stressful. But, that doesn’t mean that stress has to spoil your relationships with people.


It can be challenging to work with passive-aggressive bosses. But by following these tips, you can make the best of a challenging situation.

You can also look for ways to keep your job and career on track during such a time.

However, if the passive-aggressive behavior affects your health, look for another job.

Remember to stay positive, focus on your goals, and keep communication open.

You can perform well despite working with a passive-aggressive boss with some patience.

Last Updated on 2 weeks by Eesha Khan


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