What to Say When

Below is the first in our series of one liners we use in response to challenging behaviours. We hope they come in handy for your own work situations. If you have any of your own that work please email them in and we can include them.

Passive Aggressive Colleagues

We have a passive aggressive person on our team who constantly moans to his colleagues but won’t say anything to me. The team want him to stop. What can they say to him?

Next time he corners them in the tea room and he his being negative about the latest thing, get his colleague to say : “That sounds really important to you, let’s go and tell the manager.”


What do I say to the employee who always cries when I raise something with them. Firstly accept crying as being okay, not something to be intimidated by. Acknowledge they are upset, but don’t be put off from discussing what you intended, or hearing what they have to say. A response to tears can be as simple as passing over some tissues and saying: “I can see this is upsetting for you, I will give you a couple of minutes.” Just sit there. Say nothing. It is more likely than not they will start talking again. The key is to not allow the tears to bring the discussion to an end. It may temporarily put it on hold, but always come back to it.


Next time someone simply blames others e.g. says, ‘but I couldn’t do it because John did/didn’t do that thing’, respond with “I’m interested in what you could do differently next time so that we still get the necessary outcome”. For example: Ted hasn’t completed the report he was supposed to do for you. It was John’s fault (according to Ted) because he didn’t get the information to Ted to complete the report. What could have been done differently? Ted could have chased John for the information, communicated to John a timeline, told you before the report was due that there was possibly a delay, or completed other parts of the report while he waited for the other information. All things Ted could have done. Place the responsibility back on to Ted. i.e. the person who blames others.