Do workers take note of passive-aggressive notes?

-By Isabell Howden

Everyone knows it’s hard living with other humans. Oddly enough, we spend a huge proportion of our waking hours working with a bunch of people that are not family, friends or anyone we’ve chosen to be with, so it’s no wonder our office interactions can become fraught. In most cases we would never choose to spend upwards of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with the people who occupy the workspaces around us.

Adam Zwar recently took a light-hearted view of the dilemmas inherent in sharing space with weird strangers in his series, “The Agony of Modern Manners”. While we happily chuckled along with the comic antics of their hapless and hopeless workmates we couldn’t help nodding along and inwardly seething over the completely annoying, frustrating and disgusting habits of our own fellow office-dwellers.

But how best to deal with the food-stealers, the dirty-dish-leavers, the last-milk-users, the incessant-pen-clickers, the non-toilet-roll-replacers, the pouty-princesses, the non-deodorant-users, to name but a few of the behaviours that can cause so much angst?

The internet abounds with examples of passive-aggressive notes left in workplaces (overwhelmingly in the kitchen where territorial battles over food and drink are waged with much fervour) so this is clearly the preferred non-confrontational method of the modern day worker-bee, but it is rather cowardly and, to be honest, TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE.


The only impact notes such as this have is to encourage the bad behavior and cause the writer (who can never remain anonymous for long) to be subjected to much ridicule and humiliation.

Unfortunately it is usually left to the Office Manager (this may or may not be an official role, but one designated unwillingly to the bossiest or most capable staff member) to berate their colleague individually and collectively on a routine basis for their poor manners. While this may chasten one or two of the more sensitive souls who genuinely want to improve their relationships at work, mostly it is taken as simply more nagging, white noise to be treated with total disregard.

So write your notes, if you feel it helps, but know in your heart of hearts, that it is futile. Until humans evolve into caring, unselfish, considerate, pleasant creatures, they will always be horrible to live with, under any circumstances. So all you can do is laugh.

With that in mind, here are some of the funnier examples of passive-aggressive office notes:


Leave a Comment