pickers, gossips, and backstabbers at work


How to stop passive-aggressive picking and shut down the people who use it--professional communication training online

Passive-aggressive picking can go past being "annoying" to being degrading.  Passive-aggressive picking is finding fault in you, but doing it in a manner that is not straightforward, and is frequently masked in humor or disguised as a friendly comment--when it is decidedly not a "friendly" comment.  For example--"You always look so tired, Dear.  You really should get some rest."  According to communication skills coach Dan O'Connor, this is frequently a way of saying "You don't look so good; I hope you know that."  And it's not a show of concern.  Now let me say that context matters.  If your mother, who loves you, is looking at you with concern and saying this--she is probably not picking at you (though she might be)!  But if a coworker is saying it--and you know he/she is not saying it out of concern, then he/she is probably being passive-aggressive and attempting to belittle you or make you feel bad about yourself.  Another example of this:  "If you took just a little more time to decorate, your living room would be lovely."  Or "If you were a little taller, you could wear a pattern like that."  Or "Were you short on time when you prepared that report?"  Or "There was some good information in your presentation.  But did you need to jump around and gesture as though you were conducting an orchestra?"  Or "Have you considered using Rogaine?  It might help."  OK, you get the idea, right?

In all those examples, sincerity is lacking--and there is more pinch than punch, although you feel the impact.  The speaker is attempting to belittle, not help.  We all know when someone is just plain picking at our behavior, picking at us.  Some people might be doing this repeatedly and aiming comments only at you.  Others might be picking on/at everyone.  If your concern is stopping this person from aiming insults at YOU--watch Dan's video.  Whereas we may not be able to "change" people intrinsically, we can certainly change the way they TREAT US.  We do this by refusing to reward their behavior, and by calling out their behavior.  In this example of using effective communication skills, Dan shows us how to "call out" people who are employing passive-aggressive picking.

Communication expert Dan suggests a simple, quick, three-step process of 1. backtracking, 2. asking a clarifying question, 3. asking an open-ended question.  To see how this works, watch the free online communication training video. 


To bring Dan into your organization as a trainer or keynote speaker, or to access more of Dan's online training, go to danoconnortraining.com


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