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To hate the passive-aggressiveness in UK office culture?

49 replies

GinDaddy · 09/12/2019 15:28

Fully prepared to be flamed but here goes:

I've recently had the very good fortune to work in a couple of locations outside the UK; that's Hong Kong for a few weeks, and the US (West Coast) for 10 days.

Coming back to the UK, it's scary to see some of the things I've reluctantly got used to in UK office culture. In particular:

Assumption as a form of shaming or bullying I've lost count of the number of times someone new in the organisation, or a direct report, is asked "Why hasn't X been done?" or "What on earth has happened here?" as the FIRST instance of discussing a topic.

This is said to someone who unless telepathic, could have no knowledge of the subject or request that person is asking. Usually always done in a meeting to make the person look important and subjugate the person addressed.

Head tilting and 'I don't understand' as a way of challenging It infuriates me that folk can't just say "I've reviewed X, it doesn't look like it's working; what's your opinion, how could we get to a better solution?"

Nope - it's "I don't understand" or "I'm confused", followed by a smirk and a head-tilt. Ridiculous. Always designed to make the other person uncomfortable and rush into an explanation, another power play from a weak/insecure person.

Mass CCing on emails when the CC'd party isn't part of the working group

Why - why do people still do this? We know why - often it's passive aggressive rather than proactive, it's a not so subtle way to highlight the role of the sender in the project, and show their 'proactiveness'.

I know sometimes folk need to be on a thread to respond or take action, but it's the mad CC'ing of bosses on every minute line item. Make it stop!

It never used to be like this. Is this a new policy? Often said by people who fully well know it's nothing new, but they don't want to address the thing sent, so instead attack the policy.

I could list many others, but please add more examples I've missed.

The question is AIBU to think we are quite a passive-aggressive culture in the UK when it comes to office interactions? What can we do to change it?!

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

93 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
DisplayPurposesOnly · 09/12/2019 15:45

UK office culture

By which you mean the culture of the UK offices in the sector(s) you have worked in.

PettyContractor · 09/12/2019 15:52

I've never seen any of this.

(Except maybe the cc-ing in emails, but it's not something that really bother me.)

JellyfishAndShells · 09/12/2019 15:55

You work in a seemingly unpleasant place. How does that translate to UK office culture as a whole ??

FloraGreysteel · 09/12/2019 15:56

I've never experienced this. What horrible offices you've worked in!

xmaself24 · 09/12/2019 15:57

I've worked in an office for nearly 20 years. Never noticed this.

SunnySideDownBriefly · 09/12/2019 16:03

Have had this in every office I've worked in!

Everything becomes a witch hunt and woe betide the person who doesn't have an immediate answer or isn't even in the vicinity to stick up for themselves!

I think it comes from insecurity and people trying to makes others worse so they look better. This kind of toxic environment is really hard to get rid of and it needs to be addressed from the top down.

nothingwittyhere · 09/12/2019 16:07

This is the UK all over (and I see the poll is currently reflecting that view, even if the posts aren't). But I think you need to have lived abroad to notice it - it's the sea people here swim in, so they don't really notice it.

malificent7 · 09/12/2019 16:09

I think the British are generally more passive aggressive as they are scared of confrontation.
I had this at work this morning when a colleague went behind my back and gave the boss a lust of things i hadn't done ( as i wasn't trained / toldto do them) with no nention of the good things i'd done. Bizarre.

eurochick · 09/12/2019 16:12

I don't recognise the things in your op. I suggest you find a nicer place to work!

pollyhampton · 09/12/2019 16:14

I have just moved to a job where my manager is a complete psychopath, I've heard all of those examples from her and her immediate manager in the last 4 weeks. Its grim and such bad management practice. I have been 'told off' for praising my team too much since I started 🙄

BlaueLagune · 09/12/2019 16:14

Yes the cc'ing is very prevalent and in the sector I've worked in, witch hunts (I've worked in various legal roles, both in law firms and in companies) too.

But I don't know if either is peculiar to the UK.

Astrabees · 09/12/2019 16:14

I work in a nice friendly office, none of this goes on with us. A few years back when I worked in a more go getting sector there was no "passive" aggressive, just plain right out no holds barred "aggressive"

Yetanotherwinter · 09/12/2019 16:15

I’ve never experienced anything like this.

BrightYellowDaffodil · 09/12/2019 16:16

I don’t recognise these examples - maybe it’s just the offices in which you work? I’m not doubting that this stuff goes on but I don’t think it’s universal.

LaurieMarlow · 09/12/2019 16:16

It is office dependent, not everywhere is like this.

BUT I do recognise what you’re describing and I think a big part of it is lack of directness in British culture. Issues are rarely tackled head on, resulting in the insecure, PA behaviour you’ve witnessed.

PuppyMonkey · 09/12/2019 16:18

Apart from the mass email CC thing, haven’t the foggiest what you’re on about OP.Confused

Taddda · 09/12/2019 16:22

That head tilting 'I don't understand'..that gets me everytime....I'll add my special new favourite of being 'explained' to about something that me and everyone else is obviously fully aware of followed by 'do you understand?'......Angry

Aridane · 09/12/2019 16:23

Yes, all very big corporate

MellowBird85 · 09/12/2019 16:23

Yep, completely agree. I’m a support worker and, as you can imagine, what with mass cuts to public services, we’ve simply got too much on. Caseloads have trebled. Things are subsequently slipping because we simply have not got the time, resources or capacity to do our jobs properly. Every meeting it’s “why hasn’t x, y, z been done” (in a demanding / accusatory tone) but saying “I simply haven’t got the time” sounds feeble and like an excuse. It’s not! I’m sick of being belittled and made to feel incompetent.

MellowBird85 · 09/12/2019 16:25

And the cc’ing is arse covering / tittle tattling.

SeditionSue · 09/12/2019 16:29

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Aycharow · 09/12/2019 16:30

I cc my boss into emails so that when the you-know-what hits the fan, they know it isn't my fault and I have proof that I have already raised the issue and the person I was emailing about it is the one who has cocked up and not me. Been caught out too often.

BuildBuildings · 09/12/2019 16:31

Which sector do you work in op? I really don't think you can say all offices are the same. The only thing I sort of recognise is the head tilt and I think that's just a dick move thing in and out of work. But that's also just one particular person a few times.

AprilMay89 · 09/12/2019 16:31

The head tilt is something I can relate to. Always makes me feel an inch tall. My least favourite part of office culture is pointless pulling rank, also makes me feel about an inch tall!

reginafelangee · 09/12/2019 16:33

My workplace (in the uk) isn't remotely like this.

Nor any where I've worked. In the uk

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