Unfortunately bullying is not just reserved for school play grounds. The older you get the more you realise that the real world, just like school, is full of cliques, crowds and bullies. However, grown up bullies are smarter than the average kick you in the shins and trip you up school ones… They are nice!
Passive aggressive is a term reserved for the savviest of bullies. The kind of colleague, friend or extended family member who never openly insults or abuses you but instead, with a smile on their face and a sweet tone to their voice, agrees wholeheartedly when you say you think the jeans you are wearing may be a bit tight. The kind of colleague who when you ask if it is ok to attend a meeting to learn a little more about the company politely says that it’s probably “a bit above your station” and that you needn’t be bothered with “the nitty gritty of management”.
One of the benefits of experience that comes with age is that you learn how to handle the passive aggressive. What you should do is rise above it, not let it bother you and laugh it off. I am a firm believer in treating others as you yourself would want to be treated. Just because you are the victim of someone else’s insecurities or issues does not mean you have to become like them.
Of course, the direct approach can also work wonderfully. I once heard a tale of rumours being circulated by a particularly unsavoury colleague. The rumour mill went on for a while before the person mentioned in said rumours asked her colleague out for a coffee and enquired about what she had done that had made her the victim of such a campaign? After a pleasant chat (and several awkward denials) it transpired that the unsavoury colleague really did not have much of a life. Everything she identified herself with was through her work and clearly felt threatened by newcomers. Since this chat the problems have gone away. The unsavoury woman is no longer spreading rumours and there is generally a much nicer atmosphere in the office.
The lesson from this is quite simple. Bullies, like those from our school days, do still exist but as adults we can bring about change by simply being adult about it, confronting the situation in a pleasant but firm manner, stopping any bullying in its tracks.