passive-aggressiveMost people in the funeral profession are almost pathologically averse to confrontation. As a result, the predominant internal culture in funeral homes is Passive Aggressive. If you have been a subscriber for long you know I have a personal issue with what I call the “Ten Call Tyrant”. He or she is that individual you think brings you ten calls so you let them get away with murder. The consequence is a continual undermining of every initiative you start.

Chronic and sustained Passive aggressive behavior is a masked way of expressing anger. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that passive aggressive people like you. The only people passive aggressive people like is themselves. It is a maladaptive approach to life.

Yet, all of us are, at one time or another, prone to act in passive aggressive ways.

How it manifests:

  • Frequent sarcasm (often excused with “I was only kidding”)
  • Putting others down
  • Giving people the silent treatment rather than addressing issues
  • Sulking behavior
  • Being “cooperatively uncooperative”.
    • agreeing to do something but never doing it or doing it poorly
  • Gossiping
  • Secretly undermining new initiatives or another person
  • It’s never their fault
  • have excuses for everything…usually ones that make it someone else’s fault

Strategies for handling passive aggressive people:

“If you fail to walk in your god – given authority someone will take it away from you and use it against you.”

Passive aggressive people are masters of this art.

1. Make sure you identify it

2. Don’t let it escalate

3. Create a safe environment by making it clear that you are willing to listen and entertain OPEN conversations

4. Be careful what you say and how you say it. These people will manipulate vagueness to their advantage so be specific. If someone often undermines you by talking about your ideas behind your back don’t say I want you to stop talking behind my back.  Say, “When you told others that such and such was a bad idea it was inappropriate and disrespectful. The appropriate way would be to come to me directly to discuss you concerns.”

5. Do not interact with them indirectly. Email is a very passive aggressive mechanism. Always talk with them face to face.

6. Do not let them distract you by bringing up the failures of others or your own failures. Stay focused. IGNORE these attempts to derail the conversation. Tell them you wouldn’t talk about others any more than you would talk about them. “Right now we are only talking about you.”

7. STAY CALM. If you feel yourself getting out of control adjourn the meeting. DO NOT give them cause to play the victim.

Set Clear Standards

One of the reasons, besides the non confrontational style of most funeral home owners, that passive aggression is so common in this profession is the failure of most of our leaders to be clear about standards and expectations. This takes time and courage but it will rapidly heal much of the dysfunction stress and angst so many feel on a day to day basis.