How To Deal with Passive Aggression



Plausible Deniability

Passive aggression is when a person has hostility toward another person, but does not openly or directly express that hostility.

Instead, they find ways to express it indirectly through their behaviour.

It is a way of voicing feelings of anger without being emotionally open.

There are a number of reasons why we might adopt a passive aggressive attitude. It may be due to insecurity or a lack of self-esteem, or because the hold a grudge or feel under-appreciated.

For most people it is a learned behaviour they use simply because it is easier and safer than being assertive.

However, by refusing to be emotionally open and lacking the courage to express their feelings, they perpetuate unaddressed conflict and friction in their relationships.

When confronted, passive-aggressive people will almost always deny that there is a problem or that they have any responsibility for causing it.

It is easy to deal with people who are outwardly hostile because the challenge is clear.

However passive aggressive people present a friendly veneer despite having resentments beneath the surface which can make their behavior very difficult to address.

Tolerating or engaging in a passive aggressive conflict cycle in will only encourage the negative emotions in the relationship to continue and intensify.



Trust Your Gut Instincts

Passive aggressive behaviour can be very subtle and difficult to detect.

Humans are by nature exceptionally good communicators and often a gut feeling is the best way to guess another persons true intentions.

Passive aggressive people feel unreasonable to deal with and will make you uncomfortable.

Here are the key signs of passive aggressive behaviour

Sullen, insulting, or negative communication

Going silent, obstructing, or withholding information

Denying, forgetting, or procrastinating on key tasks

They are very sensitive to criticism, will misconstrue honest statements as a personal attack and often have a negative, victim mentality.



Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behaviour

The best way to deal with passive aggressive behaviour is be honest, direct and assertive.

Be aware that people behaving passive aggressively will often claim that they are “fine” — even when their behaviour suggests otherwise.

Here are 6 steps to deal with passive aggressive behaviour;

  1. Recognise the pattens.

2. Refuse to engage in the conflict cycle by declining to respond passive aggressively yourself.

3. Ask them to conform what they are really angry about. Do this I a calm and assertive manner.

This can be as simple as saying;

‘It feels to me that what you are trying to say is this.’

Try and identify the root of the problem and don’t let the communication degenerate into a tit for tat battle.

‘Why is this important to you?’

4. Manage the inevitable denial and deflection of blame. It is important not to accept their answers at face value.

In some cases, it may be sufficient to accept their answer, but if this is part of a repeated patten of passive aggression, you will need to press them for an honest response.

5. Its is very important to offer strong consequences to compel the passive-aggressive person to reconsider his or her behaviour.

Establish and enforce unambiguous limits by employing clearly stated, logical natural consequences for their behaviour.

6. Identify areas of cooperation and put them in control of the next steps.

Try saying;

‘What changes would you like to see and how would you like to take this forward?’