"How Do I Deal With Passive Aggressive Coworkers?"
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"How Do I Deal With Passive Aggressive Coworkers?"

Welcome to Ask a Girlboss! It's our weekly advice column where real experts answer your burning career questions. Have a dilemma that needs solving? DM us on Instagram and we'll get right on it.

"How do I deal with passive aggressive, male coworkers who are more senior than I am?"

The expert: Natasha Bowman a.k.a. "The Workplace Doctor" has an impressive CV: she's an author, speaker, attorney, consultant, CEO and mental health advocate. Here's her advice.

"I was fortunate to make it to the c-suite at a very young age. I was a recent graduate of law school and a single mom. So, it shouldn't be surprising to hear that I suffered from tremendous imposter syndrome as I sat at the decision-making table as the only Black woman for some of the most prestigious brands in the U.S. Additionally, others in the room often joined me in my belief that I shouldn't be there either or questioned my credibility, advice and, at times, even my authority. It wasn't until one organization made a huge blunder by not following my advice and eating crow that I realized I deserved to be in every room I sat in, and my voice deserved to be heard. From then on, I decided to find my voice and rebel against those passive-aggressive male co-workers who may have been more senior than me but indeed weren't smarter than me. Here's how I did it.

The first step was obviously gaining the confidence I needed to know that I was credible, intelligent and had value to add. Once I realized that, I stopped questioning whether I should speak up and started questioning those who wanted me to shut up. I began to push back and asked people to clarify passive-aggressive statements directed toward me or my work.

Next, I began to engage in uncomfortable conversations. I would let an aggressor know that their comments were not acceptable and how they made me feel. I made it clear that I would not tolerate any passive-aggressive conduct and that there were more respectful ways to communicate with each other.

Finally, I had to come to grips with the truth that if an organization wasn't welcoming of me and not comfortable with my intolerance for disrespect, then that organization, room or person wasn't worthy of my presence. Truth be told, I've had to make that decision several times. But, in the end, I never regretted it and haven't looked back. Knowing and demanding my worth, value and respect has taken me further than I could have imagined."

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