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Four in ten (38 percent) think these behaviours are caused by poor communication skills, while 25 percent blame it on bad problem-solving skills.
And more than a third (36 percent) put passive-aggressive behaviours down to a lack of leadership in the workplace.
The research, commissioned by e-learning solution Go1, found 35 percent believe these actions suggests that person has a lack of empathy.
And one in three believe such colleagues would benefit from improving their wider set of soft skills.
Ashleigh Loughnan, a spokeswoman for Go1, said: “Feeling stressed and lacking communication or problem-solving skills can all lead to passive-aggressive behaviours – and, as this research shows, can reduce productivity and damage workplace culture as a result.
“Overcoming these behaviours at work starts with proper education and training.”
The research also found the most common form of passive-aggression in British workplaces is sarcasm, encountered by 37 percent.
Another 36 percent have witnessed someone dramatically rolling their eyes, while three in ten (31 percent) have received “friendly reminders”.
But passive-aggressive behaviours can create a toxic work environment (43 percent), which leads to harbouring negative relationships between colleagues (43 percent), and decreasing productivity (38 percent).
Despite it happening so often, only a quarter of employees (25 percent) would feel comfortable reporting such behaviour.
However, this is much higher among those aged 18-24, with 40 percent comfortable doing so.
The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found further generational gaps between workers – with nearly half (47 percent) of 18-24-year-olds willing to “settle” passive-aggressive situations at work, compared to just 23 percent of those aged 45-54.
Despite this, 30 percent of those polled admit to passive-aggressive behaviours themselves – with 35 percent claiming they know full well what they are doing.
But a third (34 percent) only become aware later that their actions may have been viewed that way, and they don’t mean to do it.
Ashleigh Loughnan added: “If people are better equipped with essential soft skills, such as communication or stress management, then it can help solve the problem before it begins.
“For this to happen, we’re calling on companies to provide an open line of communication between their HR and L&D specialists and employees.
“They can implement strategies and share resources to reduce passive-aggressive behaviour and, in turn, improve their company culture.”
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