Sisterhood Agenda

How to Spot Passive Aggressive Emails & Texts

Sisterhood Agenda passive aggressive emails texts
Angela D. Coleman
Latest posts by Angela D. Coleman (see all)

Passive aggressive people are negative but express their negatively indirectly through their behavior instead of directly.  That’s sneaky!

Emails and texts are short, but may not be so sweet. Passive aggressive behavior is mean and malicious without being openly confrontational:

Think about combining both hostility and avoidance at the same time.

It’s an interesting dynamic. It is also confusing to show and prove to other people sometimes.

Why it matters

The underlying emotion behind the passive-aggressive person is anger.  S/he lashes out.  These actions and communications can hurt. Hurt feelings can and will fracture relationships.

Passive aggressive people thrive on eliciting harmful emotional responses from other people.

Passive aggressive behavior increases anxiety.  It also creates a cycle of negative responses that can escalate into more than just revolving tension.

By interfering with the formation and maintenance of healthy relationships, passive-aggressive behavior can make family, work, and friend relationships toxic.

Passive aggressive examples

There are many ways that passive-aggressive behavior shows up in the workplace and personal space.  Examples include:

  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Sarcasm
  • Being late or not showing up at all
  • Missing deadlines
  • Saying “Fine, whatever.”
  • Sulking, Pouting
  • Procrastination
  • Withdrawal
  • Stubbornness
  • Micro-management
  • Sabotaging tasks

Email communications

I’ve always advised folks to be careful with email.  Why?  It’s the tone.  With email, tone is inferred with the words, phrases, and images that you use.

With tone, you may be communicating something unspoken that is not intentional.

With emails, there is an expectation of professionalism and digital etiquette. Email is now the primary mode of communication for work tasks. It is not the best way to express frustration, so be aware of how you state what you want to say.

It can even more confusing when you are friendly in person but seem to betray another with passive aggressive emails.

Examples of passive-aggressive emails include:

  • Copying your boss on emails regarding small issues that don’t concern her
  • Using phrases like, “As I previously stated…”
  • Using phrases like “Per my last email…”

Text messages

Some of the same rules above with emails also apply to text messages.  Like email, tone is also inferred with the words, phrases, and images that you use. With texts, don’t you want to be friendly?

Choose your words carefully, especially abbeviations and and acronyms.

Using emojis can help diffuse negative emotions and clarify super-positive ones.


self-care and safety

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