Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Passive-Aggressive Programmer (again)

I'm not even interested in psychology.  But.  This kind of thing seems to come up once in a great while.

You're asked (or "forced") to work with someone who—essentially—fails to cooperate.  They don't actively disagree or actively suggest something better.  They passively fail to agree.

In fact, they probably disagree.  They may actually have an idea of their own.

But they prefer to passively "fail to agree."

I have little patience to begin with.  And I had noted my personal inability to cope in The Passive-Aggressive Programmer or Why Nothing Gets Done.

Recently, I received this.
"I thought I was going crazy and started doubting myself when dealing with a PAP co-worker. I went out on the internet searching for help and ran into your blog and its helped me realize that I'm not crazy. The example conversations you posted are almost every day occurrences here at my job when dealing with my co-worker. From outside of the department it was oh those two just butt-heads because I never knew how to communicate or point out that really I'm a targeted victim of a PAP rather than a butting heads issue. No matter what approach I took with the PAP I was doomed and still not quite sure where to go from here. Would you happen to offer any advice on how to actually deal with PAP? It's driven me to a point where I'm looking for new employment because my employer won't deal with it." 
I really have no useful advice.  There's no way to "force" them to agree with anything specific.  In some cases, there's no easy to even determine what they might agree with.

Your employer will only "deal with" problems that cause them real pain.  If you're butting heads, but still getting things done, then there's no real pain.  You're successful, even if you're unhappy.

If you want to be both happy and successful, you need to stop doing things that make you unhappy.  If you can't agree with a co-worker, you can butt heads (which makes you unhappy) or you can ignore them (which may make you happy.)

Ignoring them completely may mean that things will stop getting done.  You may appear less successful.  If you stop being successful, then your employer will start to feel some pain.

When you employer feels pain, they will take action to relieve the pain.

You might want to try to provide clear, complete documentation of your colleague's ideas, whatever they are.  If you write down the Passive-Aggressive Programmer's "suggestions", then you might be able to demonstrate what's causing the pain.  Since a properly passive programmer never actually agrees with anything, it's tricky to pin them down to anything specific.

You might be able to make it clear that they're the roadblock that needs to be removed.


  1. If you want to be both satisfied and effective, you need to quit doing factors that create you disappointed.

    remote desktop connection

  2. If you feel that agreement is necessary just keep saying "I will take your silence as tacit agreement to proceed". [silence implies consent]

    Either Mr/Ms Passive-Aggressive will counter argue or give up and leave.

    Still with 30 years experience under your belt I am surprised you have ended up working alongside a PAP.