I am but a slave to Slack, the workplace communication platform that I use more than literally every other app on my phone. It’s where it allllll happens, it’s where I first floated the idea for this very yarn to a coworker on a late Friday arvo. Slack has simply seen it all: the good, the bad, and the passive aggressive. And today, we’re gonna spotlight the passive aggressive replies, the ones that make you think, “ahhhhhh shit” as you sit back in your chair. Why not, hey? Let’s have a little fun.

Look, there is no one way to message someone. It’s different for everyone, and yet there are certain quirks, certain words that mean more than they should – like the word “ok”. Even seemingly innocent sentences can be spoilt by a devastating smiley face emoji.

So for the purpose of this yarn – because I wasn’t just going to read people for filth – I asked my dear colleague Louie Costello to step into the role of passive aggressor.

Let us begin.

The exclamation mark

The exclamation mark is the polar opposite of passive aggressive. It’s the punctuation mark you use to make you seem friendly.

For example:

Hi Louie, 

Here’s some filler because I don’t want to get right into it yet! 

This is the actual bit of the email I need you to read and reply to. 

That’s it, time to sign off!

Best,

Steff 

We all do it.

“haha” / “lol”

Nothing wrong with this one, I reckon. Just a neutral nudge that the convo has come / is coming to an end.

Please stop typing.

“Nice”

“Nice” radiates extremely neutral energy on Slack. It’s simply a nicer version of “ok” that cannot be misconstrued as a “fuck you” or “Christ, you suck”.

We like “nice”. It’s a good and safe word.

“Nice” cannot hurt you.

See also: “noiiicee”.

A single “x”

Just sitting slightly above “nice” on the ladder is the single “x”. There’s nothing malicious about it, but it’s there to give a little nudge.

Example: “Can you please add this link to your yarn x”

See also: a single “x” at the end of emails when deadlines are approaching. Things are getting overwhelming, tensions are rising, but everything is totally fine and good on paper.

“Ok”

Two simple syllables… AND YET there is something just a touch oof about it. To me, “ok” can mean one of three things:

  1. “okkk” = hmm, I’m confused but I’ll go with it
  2. “ok?” =  what are you on about?
  3. “ok” = sorry I even messaged you, you stupid lemon.

Still, none of these are really that bad in the scheme of things. For that reason, we’ll move right on.

“It’s fine”

passive aggressive

We now begin our descent into passive aggressive territory with the use of “it’s fine”.

Things are in fact not fine, but Louie does not have time to deal with our incompetence.

“Sure”

“Sure” is often sent on its own in response to really long sentences / paragraphs. Louie disagrees, but it’s not worth the fight so Louie has just hit us with the “sure”.

It’s meant to convey how much of a pelican you are.

And that’s that.

“Right”

Right, like when you haven’t quite convinced Louie on something and he doesn’t really know what to say to you next. It’s pretty much on par with “sure”.

I hate it.

Big thumbs up emoji

Louie’s pissed.

A smiley face

passive aggressive

This could mean one of two things and one of two things only.

  1. I want to take a shit on your head
  2. HahahahHAhHAHAhAahh

The days of the genuine smiley face are over.

“haha xx”

The double kiss makes all the difference here, it sounds strained and overly polite. It’s a very fake smile.

You’re probably busy doing your own stuff, but Louie needs something right NOW. He doesn’t want to push you though, so he adds a little “haha xx” to soften things up.

Louie and I use this on each other a lot when we’re being dickheads. I just went through our Slack history and found 96 “haha xx”.

A single ?

A single question mark – “?” – as a message feels very accusatory on Slack, whereas “????” is the very fun and dramatic equivalent of “TYPE FASTER”.

*Anything* with a full stop at the end of it.

Let me just dive straight into the example here:

passive aggressive

The full stop, and I’ve discussed this with Louie, is simply terrifying. It shifts the tone, it makes it more serious. The full stop is a sign of barely restrained irritation / deep anger – especially if it’s a single word reply with a full stop. That’s how you know you’ve fucked up.

Proper spelling and punctuation

Run for the hills.

Image: Getty Images