Overly Passive People Problems

Doormat picture with words The Doormat on it to represent the overly passive person or doormat.

The doormats of the organisation

Overly passive people are the constant pushover, the too eager to pleaser and the avoider of conflict at all costs. They are often known as the doormats of the organisation. I’m sure we’ve all encountered at least one such overly passive person in our lives. So how can these people ever be a problem to anyone? They won’t say boo to a goose. Think again.

This article takes a brief look at one difficult personality type you may either meet in work or have to manage in work if they are part of your team. You might even be one yourself. As a manager, this is one type you might not even think is a problem at all.

The overly passive people who just can’t say no.

They reject no requests in an effort to please anyone and everyone who asks them to do something. Does this make them somehow super-productive? Does this make them dream employees? No way!

Overly passive people are normally so over-subscribed and over-committed they end up pleasing no one. These people essentially and effectively educate those around them to take advantage of them because they are so overly passive.

What goes around comes around

Co-workers are often expected to take up any slack in order to keep the organisation, department or team in good standing. The grumbling will start and you will have to manage the fallout. This is all hugely ironic because the situation is often the direct result of the same co-workers taking advantage of overly passive people in the first place; all leading to the current overwork meltdown situation.

If you have an overly passive person for a boss then are you in for a super-rough ride. They will take on too many tasks for the team, most of which cannot possibly be achieved, then to add insult to injury they will be too weak to defend the team against complaints about poor performance. Nightmare!

Overly passive people people problems go on and on

There are numerous other problems waiting in the wings. Ultra-passive Doormats can be a bully magnets. They sometimes take on small but mission critical tasks without telling anyone until they drop the ball and the smelly stuff hits the rotating cooler. They may also quietly filter critical information, up or down, often with the best of intentions.

Good intentions pave the road to hell.

All this happens because the overly passive people do not like conflict and do not want to upset anyone.

How do you manage the overly passive people problem?

As a manager of the passive doormat type, there are many routes and options available to you. However, one of the best methods is to become a benign dictator. The irony is that whatever you suggest will be instantly and enthusiastically agreed to by the doormat. This is part of the problem. It sounds draconian, but to begin down the road toward establishing their assertiveness, you need to be assertive on their behalf. Take control over what they agree to, and therefore what they can reasonably complete, and assertively help/guide them to adopt more assertive skills themselves. It sounds harsh but say no for them until they can say it for themselves.

What if you yourself are one of the overly passive people?

If you are, or feel you are, one of the overly passive people and it is giving you issues at work and/or your personal life, then there are things you can do. It will take work and commitment but the effort will be well worth it.

Firstly you have to own the problem and decide to do something. The first stage is to learn to say no in an appropriate manner. This will be a revelation to you. Teh world will not end immediately if you do this. This is teh first step to reclaiming your assertiveness. With that mindset and target established you can speak to you line manager or HR rep who may be able to set you up with assertiveness training or even a coach or mentor. You can and should do some research of your own and seek out appropriate learning or support resourses. Observe assertive people and try out some of their behaviours. Your initial research should lead to many more options as self-confidence development can be a life-long activity. It will get better with application.

There’s far more to learn about being assertiveness

Assertively managing difficult personality types at work can be something of a nightmare for many line managers and supervisors. Some managers seem to have the amazing knack of effectively and confidently with the difficult personality types they encounter. If they can do it why can’t you?

That is all for this one

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In the meantime, you might also like to check out these related articles:

Emotional Intelligence is Vital

Assertiveness defined

Total ownership is key

Hostile-aggressive people at work

Passive-aggressive people at work

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