“The Status Quo of Suck,” or how passive aggressive employees are ruining your company and what you can do about it.


According a recent survey, over 30% of people believe they work in a passive aggressive workplace. That’s atrocious. And also quite perplexing.

Call me crazy, but I go to work every single day with one item on the agenda… okay two.
1. Make every decision based on what’s best for my customers.
2. Make every decision based on what’s best for my company’s bottom line.
And fortunately for me, one is almost always directly correlated to the other.

Yet, every day I struggle with the reality that so many in the workforce today don’t operate in their careers with the same goals in mind. Why exactly is that?

Maybe these leeches in the workforce didn’t have sports as an outlet growing up. Instead they gained the attention that children so desperately need by tattle-tale-ing on Suzie So-and-So or little Timmy Thompson when no one was around to oppose their point of view.

Or maybe they sabotaged their neighbor’s 3rd grade science experiment without ever being caught and all-skated their way to a “Satisfactory” green ribbon and a day off of school.

It’s altogether possible that every single time they received attention or achieved any success – no matter the path they took to get there – they were praised by authority figures for doing so. That might explain it…

Or, maybe they just suck.

Yet, it’s also possible their parents are to blame. Maybe they taught them this behavior by never instilling confidence in them through candid positive and negative feedback. Maybe even today their parents guilt them into obligation versus directly and succinctly communicating how they feel.

Or, once again, maybe they just suck.

Even more disappointing is that possibility that maybe these individuals simply enjoy stirring the pot. Maybe in the cubicle that defines their personal hells, they just can’t stand others who aren’t just as enamored by the game of politics and pot-stirring as they are. Maybe it’s the only thing that gets them through the day – the drama that results from their behavior – and it plays out like any good soap opera might at home, just without the couch or bon bons.

Overall, it is quite obvious that this type of behavior can be described by no better descriptor than selfish.

These types of employees are selfishly vested in doing things they way that they have always known, and it continues to suck like the life out of any company with which they are employed. And it gnaws at the productivity and happiness of those who are forced to work alongside them.

Look out for these people. Avoid them. They will bring you and the company down with them.

It takes motivated, dedicated, loyal, superstar employees just like you to counteract their impact. As a company gets larger, maintaining the status quo of suck gets increasingly more difficult, and they will try to knock out people like you one by one to ensure that never happens.

I haven’t yet figured out the magic formula that can keep their passive aggressive emails out of my inbox or their piss-poor work off of your desk. But I do have some tips below I try to follow, at least until that trap door I suggested is installed at companies across the globe.

Do whatever the heck you can to limit your interaction with these types of co-workers as much as possible. They inevitably will pull you down. Don’t let them.

Surround yourself with others who are positive and share the same goals you do.

If you are absolutely forced to be around them, keep a Moleskine journal of everything you learn not to do from them in your career. Write helpful hints for how to handle situations you see them clearly handling in a suck-filled manner. LEARN from them.

When you are forced to interact with them in meetings, always bring along an ally. These types of people will railroad you any chance they get. And regardless of whether or not you bring your ally, you can bet they will.

Don’t let them see you sweat. Keep any hot-tempered frustration to a minimum in front of them – it will only encourage an increase in the intensity of their suckdom. Instead, be assertive, be factual and be kind.

The point here is you really can overcome the status quo of suck, but it takes a great deal of energy and thoughtful effort. And one day, if you persevere long enough, you will have much to show for it, including these two things.

1. A priceless journal of tips to help you throughout your career.
2. A front row seat to the show as the suck-o-potamus is escorted out of your building.

Almost always, these people will be weeded out in one way or another, and if your company is worth its salt for you to have stuck around through such grief, #2 will inevitably come. Better yet, for your job and even your company itself to exist, it has to.



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