The Passive-Aggressive Executive

  • Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries
Part of the INSEAD Business Press book series (IBP)


The term “passive-aggressive” is used to describe a behavior pattern where negative feelings are expressed indirectly rather than directly. Generally speaking, when someone yells at you, you know all is not well—they are making their feelings quite clear. But passive-aggressives are much more subtle in expressing their anger. They are masters of covert abuse. There is a disconnect between what they say and what they do. Nothing they do is done directly. They use a form of non-verbal aggression that manifests itself in negative behavior. This kind of sugarcoated hostility becomes a destructive way of interacting—a way of getting back at you without your recognizing their underlying anger. Unsurprisingly, passive-aggressives are very difficult to deal with.


Senior Executive Coaching Session Innocent Victim Coaching Intervention Coaching Process 
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Copyright information

© Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries
    • 1
  1. 1.INSEAD, France, Singapore & Abu DhabiThe Netherlands

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