4 Signs That You Are Being Too Passive at Work

Learning how to be assertive at work is one of the most important skills that you can develop as a professional. When you communicate assertively, you act fairly and with empathy instead of stepping on the rights and interests of other people. That means you are able to communicate difficult messages without creating conflict and without risking your relationships with your colleagues. Aggressiveness by contrast, destroys relationships because an aggressive individual tends to disregard the thoughts, feelings, and needs of the people around them.

There is, however, a third type of behavior that can potentially put you at a disadvantage at work: passiveness. When a person consistently takes a passive stance, you fail to communicate your thoughts and interests to others, especially when the other side is expressing opinions or desires that are contrary to yours. Often, this happens as a result of wanting to please the other party or desiring to avoid any sort of conflict with them.

At first, it may seem like taking a passive stance is a good idea because you may feel like you are winning these people’s approval. But passive behavior often leads to treatment by others that only reinforces your passiveness. In short, your colleagues will only be encouraged to take advantage of you.

This is why it is important to counter passive behavior as soon as you can. One great way to do this is by taking communication and assertiveness courses that will help empower you to become a more effective and assertive communicator. Moreover, it will also help if you are aware of the common signs of passiveness so that you can nip them while they are still in the bud. Here are some of them.

Feeling that your opinion matters little

Passive individuals tend to belittle their own views. If you usually preface your opinions with words like “I’m not really sure if I’m right,” it’s indicative that you are being very conscious about the possibility of other people disparaging your opinion. You make up for this by already assuming that you could be wrong so that when other people disagree with you, the rejection is much easier to accept.

Criticizing yourself too much

It is normal to be self-critical at times, but a passive person often suffers from too much self-deprecating behavior. When you call yourself “stupid” all the time or you have this deeply ingrained feeling that you won’t be able to do anything right, you’re definitely being too critical about your own capabilities. Chances are, there are many other factors that contribute to things that go wrong, but you just choose to ignore them.

Always putting the desires of others ahead of yours

There may be times when you will choose to put other people’s needs before yours as a compromise so as to maintain good relationship with them. However, individuals that seek others’ approval too much will consistently push aside their own thoughts and desires to accommodate those of other people. Simply riding along the opinion of others without even trying to put your own thoughts forward is an example of this behavior.

Experiencing undue physical distress

Because passive individuals tend to lack confidence, they often suffer undue anxiety when trying to stand up for themselves. As a result, they will speak softly to try to avoid becoming the center of attention and they will also avoid maintaining eye contact with their colleagues. They also tend to be hesitant about speaking in a direct way and will instead speak in a broken manner because they are not sure about whether to push their ideas or not. When you constantly take a passive stance, it can manifest as extreme physical discomfort.

Now that you are aware of some of the most common signs of passiveness, you are in a better position to take the necessary measures to become more assertive in your everyday professional relationships, whether you’re working in an office environment, in a factory, or as a freelancing creative. It’s good for your self-esteem, and it’s good for your career.

About the author

John Newman is a writer who is passionate about trends in logistics and supply chain management. He enjoys writing about digital commerce, sales and marketing, and technological innovations in business.


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