How To Deal With Passive-Aggressive Behaviour

How To Deal With Passive-Aggressive Behaviour

It’s that oh-so-nice-but-firm note your flatmate leaves about the one cup you left in the sink unwashed, or the comments your snidey boss makes about your one lateness this week. Or the woman in the McDonald who wants to ask you if you’re in the queue or not but instead just smiles sweetly at you. Behind those eyes, she is stabbing you savagely with daggers. Here’s how to spot passive-aggressive behaviour and what to do about it.

Passive-aggressive people hide their rage and dislike for your underneath a veneer of sweet politeness. It’s fake and difficult to deal with for more open people.

Here are some ways to spot passive-aggressive people. Is this you or someone you know?

1. “Oh sorry, I forgot!”

You’ve asked them to do something a good few times now and you are getting the impression – without them telling you outright – that they don’t want to do it. Why? Because they forget with a smile. The ‘oh sorry, I forgot’ line is simply their easy way out instead of standing up for themselves.


3. You hear they are pissed off with you from everyone – except them

They will complain about you or whatever it is you’ve done or not done to everyone you work with/live with/are friends with except the person they’re complaining about. This indirect, snidey approach can often hurt relationships, and can make problems worse rather than solving them.


5. Soooo lovely to see you…

Passive-aggressive people are unable to express their anger or displeasure openly and directly.  So they harbour. Bitterness and resentment will well up inside them and all the culprit will know about it is that there’s something not quite right with that smile…This behaviour is dangerous – some people end up being backstabbed without any warning.

6. Revenge is silent and very polite 

If they’re pissed off with you, you’ll never know about it, and not only that – they’ll get you somehow. Hidden beneath their outwardly agreeable persona is a desire to punish those who have hurt them. Passive-aggressive people often go to great lengths to get their revenge. And be warned – their plots for revenge are often indirect—an anonymous angry email or a nasty rumour spread through the office… rice in your shoes or your number in the boys’ toilets.


How to deal with passive-aggressive people

Passive-aggressors need to build confidence and become more assertive. Encourage them to be open with their opinions. Show them that not every discussion or confrontation need be aggressive or painful. Resolve issues once surfaced by talking to them. But always, always ensure you call them out on their passive-aggressive behaviour. They need to take responsibility for themselves, their actions and their opinions too.

photo credit: Flickr/ Passive Aggressive notes

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