Tess was immediately annoyed in the presence of her manager and she couldn’t understand why.

She normally got along with a wide-range of personalities, had no issue with authority, and was generally well-liked by most. But for some reason, every time she saw her manager, she wanted to run in the opposite direction.

Their conversations were strained. Tess would begin by talking about one thing and her manager would be dismissive and change the subject. While Tess was held to a high standard, her manager did not model the same behavior. Then her manager would micromanage things Tess was already considered an expert on, by asking her to do things more inefficiently. When Tess’s performance suffered as a result of doing things her manager’s way, she was held accountable not her manager.

So Tess avoided her manager like the plague.

At first, Tess tried to confront her manager but that ended in a ridiculous long conversation with no conclusion. Frustrated, Tess began to write down the characteristics that drove her crazy, and then looked them up on the internet. What she found was Passive-Aggressive Personality Trait, which is part of the family of Undefined Personality Disorders. Here is her list.

  1. Lots of excuses. Whenever Tess would ask her manager about the completion of a task that was assigned to her manager, there was nothing but excuses as to why it was incomplete. Tess struggled to find even one thing that was fully completed. Most projects were left half done or not done at all.
  2. Overreacting/Underreacting. Tess’s manager would overreact when Tess made an error but when her manager made the same mistake, her manager would under-react. There was no consistency in performance. Even when this was brought to her manager’s attention, her manager would shift the blame to her supervisor.
  3. Conveniently forgets. During a major project, Tess’s manager would conveniently forget to communicate with key participants, including Tess. Instead, her manager would make decisions that changed the direction of Tess’s work, and not tell Tess for days about the shift. Even when a simple email would do, her manager would “forget” to send it.
  4. Resists change. Things were her manager’s way or the highway. Even when her manager was acting unnecessarily inefficient, she resisted any change that she did not initiate. And even then, the changes were for Tess only, and not her manager. All suggestions for improving communication, participation, and effectiveness were resisted by her manager.
  5. Avoids conflict. Probably the most confusing aspect of her manager’s behavior was the avoidance of all conflict. Yet, her manager would intentionally stir up conflict between Tess and her co-workers. So from an upper-management point of view, it looked as if her manger handled conflict, but in reality she personally avoided it while instigating it in others.
  6. Apologizes without change. Most times, Tess’s manager was quick to apologize for any misunderstanding but then nothing would change to prevent the same mistake in the future. It almost seemed like her manager would apologize just to avoid discussing the issue so she could go back to doing things the way she wanted.
  7. Harbors anger. Tess was a naturally sensitive person so she was able to pick up on her manager’s anger, frustration, and hostility easily. When Tess confronted her manager about the emotions she perceived, her manager was dismissive, and blamed Tess instead.
  8. Complains a lot. For Tess, the most frustrating aspect of her manager was the constant complaining or whining about how things worked. Even when there were valid suggestions, her manager would not take action and instead blamed others. Her manager seemed to love to complain, not change.
  9. No accountability. Since part of being a manager is to accept responsibility for leading a team, it was confusing to watch Tess’s manager not accept any responsibility. Any attempt to identify an area of accountability was met with hostility and anger. It seemed as her manager was ineffective on purpose to avoid being held accountable.
  10. Agrees but doesn’t act. Even during team meetings, her manager would agree to complete a task but then would not follow through. When confronted, she would make excuses, sometimes lie, and blame others. This left the employees constantly unsure of what would and would not get done. Eventually, they all learned not to ask their manager for anything.

Passive-aggressive behavior is very annoying to those who do complete tasks. For Tess, once she identified the behavior and realized that it was not going to change, she sought out another position at work. Her enjoyment in her work environment was more important than what job she was doing.