I need your help, y'all!

A female coworker has become super passive aggressive. I don't work with her often, she's in a different business unit, but we have to collaborate sometimes.

I can deal with her personally, kill them with kindness. However, she texted my direct report something aggressive, untrue, and frankly super unprofessional about me. He didn't feel comfortable sending me a screenshot, but he read it to me. He doesn't want it to come out that he told me.
What would you do?

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Meet with her for lunch or a coffee and try to find some common ground as people over co-workers. Try to connect on a personal level. That's the only way I've ever been able to handle co-workers like this.


I think you're right. This will be where I start. Wish me luck! Thank you for the advice

Nip it in the bud before she goes around talking ish about you behind your back. Set up a 1:1 with her and call her out. Ask her what fuels her negative outlook of you and see what you can do to ensure she isn’t threatened by your role.


Great advice, thanks!

Report to HR. I would not address this until there is a paper trail.


HBR’s “Women at Work” podcast has some episodes about passive-aggressive colleagues that I found helpful. Their episodes are chock-full of applicable, realistic advice.


Thanks! I'll check it out!

Thank your report for telling you and coach him to push back in these situations. This is a good all-around skill to practice because there are a lot of toxic people out there. Even something like, “it seems like the two of you have some things to work out between the two of you. Do you want me to give her a heads up for her to reach out to you or do you want to set that up?”

Or, “I haven’t had that experience with her. I’d encourage you to set up time with her to talk about it.”


I personally would hope that your direct report defended you and report her to direct report and HR for aggression. Keep screenshot of said comment for documentation.

You do not need to tolerate that type of behavior.

But if you want to make the effort, do what the first person said above. Keep it professional.

Good advice, thank you!

This has HR written all over it. By engaging in a face to face or just killing it with kindness will perpetuate the issue. You got yourself a bully. You are at work, you should not have to creatively counter this.

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