Passive-aggressive behavior can be the hidden demon that impacts an organization by slowing production and stressing relationships. This behavior is ingrained in a person's personality and can be difficult for companies to overcome. Knowing the signs of passive-aggressive behavior allows for addressing such poor behavior in the workplace.
People who regularly use passive-aggressive behavior do so because it is difficult for others to point out their aggressive activities. They use subtle language and actions that damage organizational culture and slow productivity without exposing their hidden aggressive thoughts.
As an example, lets say you are working on a project and send an email that requires additional work. A passive-aggressive person may respond with a flat and negative email questioning the necessity of that project, looking for faults, and complaining through rumors and gossip.
What happens in this situation is they are trying to punish the person who sends them work to avoid future work by being rude and "snippy". They are also sending the message they are not team players and slowing down the process.
Addressing such behaviors means not only recognizing these actions but also calling them out when they are excessive. This ensures that when it is destructive the person realizes that it is noticed and inappropriate.
However, when such situations continue to occur and impact that workplace it may be necessary to be more drastic and have a one-on-one meeting. The discussion is documented and could include anything such as professional tone, meeting deadlines, working with a team, addressing their personal issues with others in person versus in public, or bringing personal concerns to their boss instead of allowing the toxic beliefs fester.