Save to Pocket
Words at Work

7 words that make you sound passive aggressive at work

Maintaining healthy and happy relationships with coworkers is important to an overall healthy and happy work environment. And one way to do so is by avoiding language that might make you sound passive aggressive — an adjective no one wants to be.

Refrain from using these seven stereotypically passive-aggressive words when interacting with people at work, and you can avoid unnecessary and unproductive tension in the office.

1. “Fine”

Using the word “fine” in the workplace is as obviously ingenuine as when you use it in your relationship. If you’re describing something as “fine,” your coworkers are very much aware that said situation is, in fact, not fine.


Ladders is now on SmartNews!

Download the SmartNews app and add the Ladders channel to read the latest career news and advice wherever you go.


2. “Thanks in advance”

This phrase indicates that you expect someone to do something for you without them having actually accepted to do said favor. It’s a passive-aggressive way of communicating to someone that they have no choice but to complete your request.

3. “Per my last email”

On the technology side of the workplace, this phrase indicates that you believe you shouldn’t have to explain yourself because it was thoroughly explained in the last message. Someone who is genuinely confused or maybe simply missed an email or two will note this obvious insinuation.

4. “In case you missed it … “

The face-to-face version of “per my last email.” This phrase hints to coworkers that you know they heard and ignored whatever message you believe to be too important for them to ignore, and you’re (im)patiently awaiting a response.

5. “Sure”

The word “sure” communicates to coworkers that you’re technically saying “yes,” but you would rather be saying “no.” Just say “yes,” and prevent all further awkwardness and unnecessary friction.

6. “I thought you knew”

This phrase hints at simple negligence. You are assuming the other person should know something that you chose not to inform him/her of. It could also make that person feel unimportant to you, as though he/she was not worthy of your time.

7. “I hope you don’t mind”

This phrase indicates that you are already doing/have already done whatever it is you are asking for permission to do. Basically, you’re disregarding your coworker’s professional opinion on the matter and doing what you want to do anyway, which no one appreciates.

Avoiding these seven phrases can help to eliminate all hostility in the workplace while also improving relationships you have with your peers.

This article first appeared on Fairygodboss.

More from Ladders