Genuine Curiosity Is the Cure for Passive Aggression

When someone does something that annoys us, it is in our nature to ask them why. It can make things better or worse, depending on how you do it. If you don’t want to appear passive-aggressive, you need to be curious.

Passive aggression can be hard to avoid when you’re upset or annoyed, but it can really add fuel to the fire. A simple resentment can turn into total enmity. Peter Bregman of the Harvard Business Review invites you to ask them a question about their behavior, but take a genuine interest in their arguments:

The main thing is to show curiosity (otherwise the question may turn out to be passive-aggressive). Your curiosity may be the only step you need to take. If you hear a legitimate reason for a person’s abusive behavior, your anger may simply dissipate. And if they have no reason, they can simply change their behavior.

Showing that you are genuinely interested in hearing their version of the story can open the way for constructive conversation. You may still not like their reasoning about their actions, but avoiding passive aggression makes it much easier to find a compromise.

3 Ways To Stop Being Passive Aggressive | Harvard Business Review


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