You’ve probably had to deal with passive aggressive people in your life. It is also likely you didn’t fully realize what they were doing. They could’ve been an acquaintance giving you backhanded compliments or a colleague “forgetting” to include you on an email. The problem when learning how to deal with passive-aggressive people is that their behavior is subtle.
Outward aggression can be scary. Someone shouting obscenities in traffic or lashing out at their partner is intimidating. But at least with them, you know where you stand. Passive-aggression, on the other hand, is harder to put a finger on. Masked under a thin veil of politeness and niceties, the aggression is elusive, hard to grasp. On the surface, there might be a rational explanation for their behavior, but somehow, you feel bad after interacting with them.
However, there are ways to know for sure what you’re dealing with. Not unlike a personality disorder, passive-aggressiveness, or covert aggression, comes with some symptoms: not taking responsibility for one’s actions, refusing to state your needs directly, and being purposely inefficient.
It usually stems, like so many of our troubles, from our childhood. A passive-aggressor is probably someone who grew up in a family that avoided direct conflict. They needed to find other, more “creative”, avenues to express their displeasure.
An act of passive-aggression here and there is okay. We’ve all done it. The issue is when it’s chronic and the only way used to express their discontentment.
The first step in dealing with passive-aggressive people is to know what this behavior looks like.
Showing up late to meetings and appointments is a way of saying: “I don’t really value this, nor your time,” but without having to say it.
This is often done with small lies. Lies of omission and distortions. “Oh, you didn’t get my email about today’s meeting? Something must’ve gone wrong,” or “Sorry, I unplugged your phone. I thought it was charged.”
These small actions are especially damaging as they sabotage your relationship at its very foundations.
If they have to clean the dishes, they’ll leave out just a few utensils on the counter. Or if they need to file paperwork, they’ll omit just a couple of folders at the end of the day. Since they’ve done most of the work, you’d feel bad for nitpicking over such tiny details. They forgot, right?
Yet it’s enough to annoy you. If it happens regularly, this might be deliberate.
These are often said with a smile. They look and sound like real compliments, but feel more like a slap on the face.
That’s because they are. When you hear “Your new haircut is so much better than the one you had before,” or “You’re so brave for wearing this bikini with your body type,” do you really want to say “Thank you”?
Always giving vague answers or using silence are ways passive-aggressive people express their disagreement without verbalising it.
They may also lie by omission and withhold important information in an attempt to make things harder for you.
On top of silence, passive-aggressiveness can manifest through indirect insults, judgement, and moody responses.
Comments such as “Sure, you can invite me to that fancy restaurant but are you sure you’ll know how to behave?” comprise all three.
Being on the receiving end of constant passive-aggression can feel maddening. But now that you know how to clearly identify the behavior, you can learn to deal with passive-aggressive people.
The hardest part of dealing with passive-aggressive people is not reacting to their provocation. They are looking for a reaction to confirm they got under your skin.
Getting angry, sighing, or even calling them out on their behavior will only add fuel to the fire they started.
So, take a breath, relax, and ignore their covert acts of aggression. If they see their strategy is ineffective, they might stop.
The passive-aggressive person’s behavior is tailored towards conflict avoidance. When you notice an instance of passive-aggressiveness, address it.
Without raising your voice or getting flustered (remember, that’s the reaction they’re hoping for), tell them how it makes you feel, why you wish they didn’t say what they said, and whether there could be consequences for your relationship. The key is not to assign blame but focus on your feelings and your emotions with “I” statements.
For example: “Hey, I’ve noticed you comment a lot on my parenting skills. It’s nice if you have helpful advice but when you just criticize how I raise my children, it makes me feel bad. If this continues I don’t think I’ll feel comfortable having you around as much.”
Assigning blame and judgement will just draw you into a negative interaction with the other person. The better way is to remove emotions and ask them to come up with a solution.
Let’s say you are planning a get-together but one of your friends keep making snarky remarks about your plans. Instead of getting angry, you could try saying: “You don’t seem very excited by this idea. Is there something else you’d rather do perhaps?”
Or if a colleague says “Yeah, sure, I’ll get that done by Thursday. All my other tasks can wait.” You could respond with something along the lines of “Sorry, I didn’t realize your schedule was so packed. What do you think the deadline should be?”
Sometimes you endure passive-aggressive behavior for a long time with no signs of improvement. There might come a point when you’ve had enough.
For your own sanity, and to avoid messy confrontations, it might be necessary to cut ties with the covert aggressor.
Evaluate how it has affected your mental health and respond accordingly. Do you just need some time apart? A clean break?
Granted, you can’t just stop all interactions with family members and coworkers. But you can keep them to a minimum. Keep the interactions as neutral as possible, and very specific.
If the passive-aggressive person happens to be your partner, this is a hard thing to do. Maybe you are dating the wrong person. In any case, taking the time to evaluate the pros and cons of your relationship will definitely be worthwhile.
Remember, when dealing with passive-aggressive people, that they may not have a complete control over their behavior. It is often instinctive and deep-rooted and cannot always be remedied just because you asked them to.
If you are patient and willing to offer a helping hand to the passive-aggressive person in your life, your relationship with them will benefit tremendously. If you choose not to, that is also your prerogative, as this can be a long, arduous process.
Whatever path you choose, do it with good intentions. If you choose to help them along their journey, do so with love and compassion. If you choose to walk away, do so out of self-love and without holding a grudge or trying to hurt the other person.
Did you like this article? You can share it for your friends to enjoy
July 16, 2019
So, you are finally meeting that special person you met online in real life? Congratulations! Making the transition from a computer screen into the real world is a very courageous move. Indeed, it takes an exceptional and bold person to take the relationship a notch higher, considering that everything so far has been vi...Lire la suite
February 7, 2020
When a woman isn’t into you at all, she will often make it clear. She’ll shut down any conversation, avoid eye contact with you, or turn down all your advances. If you have a hunch she doesn’t like you, you are probably right. The signs that she does like you, however, can be more subtle. How do ...Lire la suite
November 29, 2019
Asking someone out can be stressful. The fear of rejection is always at the back of your mind and having unreciprocated feelings can sting. In online dating, from the relative safety afforded by your computer screen, you’d think it would be different. Easier. It isn’t. When the time comes to as...Lire la suite
September 15, 2021
For most guys, hearing that your girlfriend wants space is alarming. And that is putting it mildly. If that is the first time it happens to you, you might even start to sweat a little, thinking: “She wants space! What could it possibly mean?” You would gladly spend more time with her, but she obviously fe...Lire la suite
April 19, 2023
Abandonment issues are really one of those things that can derail even the most promising relationships. They usually show up early on, and almost always have a harmful impact on your dating life. If you have ever felt insecure in a relationship, afraid that someone was going to leave you, or like you might not be...Lire la suite
September 13, 2022
Relationships do not always have to be linear: first date, second date, dating, moving in together… Sometimes life has other plans for you. You might be too busy for a relationship. Or your boyfriend moved to another city and you find long-distance relationships too hard. Short breaks from romantic relationships ...Lire la suite
September 12, 2022
So, you’ve got a great girl in your life? Congratulations! Being in love can be one of the best feelings in the world. If you are like most guys, you probably want to do all you can to make this girl feel loved and special. To show her how much she means to you, each and every day. Which quickly brings an importan...Lire la suite
May 31, 2022
Look at any relationship between two people, and you would be hard pressed to find one that has not had any rougher patches. Even couples who look perfect on the surface have most likely had struggles, experienced ups and downs. That is simply how life is between humans. And that is why you don’t think about br...Lire la suite
May 18, 2022
Relationships and romantic feelings often bring out some pretty intense behaviors. Off the top of your head, you might already be associating budding romances with wanting to text your boyfriend as soon as you wake up, thinking about him all the time at work or at school, and jumping at every opportunity to hang out wit...Lire la suite
March 16, 2022
You may not really be happy to discover that your girlfriend needs a break. No guy is ever ready for that, really. So, if that is happening to you, just know that the unpleasant feelings you are experiencing are normal. First of all, you should know that this is a common situation – albeit not a fun one –...Lire la suite
February 23, 2022
When your ex comes back into your life long after your separation, you might feel a few ways about it: You might be intrigued, especially if you had little to no way to know what they have been up to. Curiosity is human. You could get mad. How dare he feel so entitled to your time and attention that he thinks he can ju...Lire la suite
February 16, 2022
One of the hardest things about breaking up with someone is the relationships you leave behind in the process. Because yes, you lose more than one: There is the relationship you had with your ex, of course, Then there are also all the mutual friends and their side of the family, with whom you often lose touch, And ...Lire la suite
February 2, 2022
Is there anything more frustrating than being ignored by your girlfriend and not knowing how to talk to her, or even why she is not talking to you? If there is, it must be something really, really frustrating indeed. Yet, it happens all the time. Even in relationships that seem to be going well. Just because your ...Lire la suite
January 20, 2022
Ah, relationships! Like them or not, they often make us go through all sorts of emotions. Sometimes we are not even in control of them. Where you used to be a completely rational and even-keeled individual, you now become a bit of a mess. So to speak. Emotions can sometimes prevail over your more logical and composed...Lire la suite
© 2023 |Terms & Conditions