Dealing With Passive-Aggressive Coworkers


Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I got a question about passive aggressive
coworkers annoying me. This ought to be good here. This question is from—let’s see, I don’t
have a name on this one, but he says, “Hi John, I don’t want to bore you with details,
but long story short: I was working on an app at my company, that was taken over by
another pair of programmers. I was moved to another project, to help another
senior dev. Since then, every now and then, they will
send me emails with obvious questions *that point out my errors.* This would be of no
concern to me, if it were one-to-one emails, but they keep CC’ing management. If I didn’t know any better, it would seem
like they’re trying to make me look incompetent. Whenever I see an error in another person’s
code, I will directly email them one to one, for clarification. It seems to me this is proper etiquette, maybe
they are totally oblivious because of a culture barrier. What did you do with this situation? Am I over reacting? How do I communicate that the emails are not
cool without losing my cool? Thanks for your help. Your show is great, the life videos too, not
just the software videos.” This is kind of a difficult situation. My best advice here is to let them continue
what they’re doing and respond as graciously as possible thanking them for pointing out
the error, explain to them how you would resolve it or how you would fix this in the future
and how, “Oh yes, that was a silly error that I made, thank you so much for pointing
that out, especially such an obvious error that I made.” Don’t try to defend yourself. Don’t try to justify it. Just thank them for it. Thank them for how much they care about the
code that you wrote and for bringing this to your attention. That’s what you should reply, something
like that to all these. Management is going to get ticked off when
they keep on sending these emails because it’s going to annoy them. Right now what they’re doing is, you know,
you’re going to give them a rope and they’re going to hang themselves because if they keep
doing this it’s not going to look bad on you. The only way it’s going to look bad on you
is if you retaliate, you lose your cool or you try to defend yourself in this situation. It will be very obvious. See, what you want to do in this situation
is you want to make it very obvious what they’re doing without you doing anything. This is sort of like being a—harkens back
to the days of being a courtesan in a royal court. You’ve got to put the—have the iron hand
wrapped in the velvet glove. You can’t come out and directly attack your
opponents in this case because it’s going to make you look back and that’s what they
want you to do. But if they continue doing this, and you do
nothing except for thank them and be gracious to them, what’s going to happen is management
is not stupid or as stupid as they may seem. They’re going to pick up on this. They’re going to say, “Hey look, it looks
like these 2 guys they’re picking on this guy and trying to make him look incompetent.” When they pick up on that that’s going to
be—they’ll get what they deserve, those guys probably, right? They’ll get taken care of. They’re going to cause more problems for
themselves than you. If you react and you respond and you come
back and you attack them and you defend yourself then you’re going to fall right into their
trap. Don’t fall into their trap. Give them the rope. Let them hang themselves. That’s your counter move in this situation. The other thing you could do is try and disarm
a situation. I don’t mean to be nasty and say that you
need to let them hang themselves. Definitely respond graciously to their emails,
but be sincere about it and actually go over and talk to them. Just say, “Hey look, I really appreciate
you giving me feedback on the code that I wrote. I’m not a perfect person. I make mistakes. I’m learning. I definitely have errors in my code so I really
appreciate that. Hey, could I buy you lunch? Could I take you out to lunch and we could
discuss—maybe you have some ideas since you’re looking at this code. I’m always curious to get your feedback,
get someone’s feedback on my code, on what I wrote. It’s not perfect and you’re a very experienced
person. Obviously, you’ve picked up on a lot of
errors. I would like to know just in general what
you think about my coding and where I could improve. I would really appreciate it if you’d help
me and give me that advice.” Now you’ll be recruiting them as an ally. It would be very hard for them to stab you
in the back when you are essentially telling them that you value their opinion. When they’re doing this stuff they’re
trying to prove they’re better than you. You’ll create this weird dynamic where when
they try to send this email and they try to CC manager on this, your manager, and they
want to attack you, they’re going to be like, “Oh, this guy bought me lunch and
he was sincerely interested in my opinion and he thought I was a valuable developer,
valuable enough to give my opinion and to value that opinion. Maybe I’ll just go over to his desk and
tell him about it. Or maybe it’s not even really a problem. I’ll just delete this email.” That’s a good way to handle that as well. What you just don’t want to do is fall into
the trap, don’t respond by attacking back. Don’t try and get them. If you’re going to let them hang themselves,
hang themselves that’s fine. Try to disarm the situation and try to be
friends with them. One of the greatest joys in life is taking
an enemy and turning them into a friend. One of the greatest friends you can ever have
is a previous enemy. I’ll tell you this: love and hate are on
2 sides of the same coin. If someone is passionately hating you they
can also passionately love you and be extremely loyal to you. Some of my best friends, some of my best fans
here in Simple Programmer or this YouTube channel are people that just hated my guts. I reached out and recognized that they were
crying out. No one was paying attention to them and I
honestly treated them like a human being and addressed some of their concerns and now they
became great fans. See if you can do that. That’s a high road, see if you can take
the high road. If you can’t take the high road, if it’s
just not going to work, some people are toxic and they’re just going to do what they’re
going to do, let them hang themselves, just don’t be part of it. Don’t get trapped. Don’t get sucked into that. Anyway, I hope that helps you. If you found this valuable, if you have a
situation that—or you know someone in this situation, definitely share the video. Just click that share button. If you like this video, if you’d like to
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