4 Ways Passive Aggression Forms

It’s not just found in the church. I’ve been in business, government and nonprofits. Passive aggression forms in every context where I’ve worked.

passive aggression forms

How passive aggression forms on a team or in a church: Passive aggression in my context is when people are upset or aggravated about an issue but those in leadership positions with authority to do anything about it are the last to hear there is a concern or problem. I’ve seen it destroy the health of organizations (and churches) so many times.

I’ve got some theories of how it develops. They’ve been developed by years of doing church leadership. I never imagined how many passive aggressive people I could find in the church. 

Yet, it’s not just found in the church. I’ve been in business, government and nonprofits. Passive aggression forms in every context where I’ve worked.

Where does it come from? How does it develop? 

4 Ways Passive Aggression Forms: 

1. Culture of fear.

When people are afraid of how others will respond they are less likely to share how they truly feel. They’ll be “passive” instead. 

2. Absence of challenge.

Passive aggression forms when no one ever challenges those doing it directly. Eventually, someone needs to stand up to people who gossip or complain. They need direct them to the people about whom they are complaining.

3. Broken relationships.

When people are injured they often carry those injuries into other relationships. They try to protect themselves from future conflict by keeping their aggression “behind closed doors”. 

4. Lack of communication.

When people don’t have answers they make up their own. Especially in large organizations, this often leads to “chatter” rather than the truth. 

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.