- undisguised eyerolls
- pointed sighs
- guilt tripping sentences
- angry smiles
- sweetly disguised complaints
- comments which sounds innocent – but make you feel terrible
- defiant rebellion
These things can feel very annoying!
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with a passive aggressive person – while keeping your sanity intact.
Coming up I will be sharing 6 helpful strategies for dealing with passive-aggressive people.
But first, let’s take a look at the psychology behind their irritating behavior.
What does it mean to be passive aggressive?
- Basically, passive aggressive behavior is a pattern of expressing negative feelings in an indirect way – rather than openly discussing issues in a constructive way.
Things passive aggressive people tend to say…
- “Fine. Whatever.”
- “Why are you getting so upset?”
- “I’m not mad.”
- “I was only joking”
- “I thought you knew.”
Why are people passive aggressive?
- Some people prefer to resort to indirect (and hostile) communication because it’s easier than dealing with their own issues and feelings in a vulnerable way.
- Often these people tend to have low self-esteem and may be afraid to be open with others about their negative feelings.
- Many of these people have grown up in a household where this kind of behavior was normal. They may have become so used to it that they don’t realize it hurts others.
- They’re simmering with a lifetime of angry emotions – and they don’t know how to express themselves in a healthful way.
By understanding what it means to be passive aggressive – and learning some strategies for dealing with these kinds of people – you can avoid a lot of the drama.
Know What to Look Out For
It’s important to be able to recognize the tactics passive aggressive people use. That way, you can identify when they are manipulating you and shut it down ASAP.
The 4 Most Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors
1. The Silent Treatment
The silent treatment is when a passive aggressive person decides to stop talking to you to punish you for something, whether you know what it is or not. If or when you confront them, chances are they’ll completely deny what they are doing. Then they’ll probably continue to ignore you.
Passive-aggressive types rely on procrastination when assigned a task they don’t want to do. They will often take forever to get it done, or they’ll finish most of it but leave the last bit unfinished.
3. Backhanded Compliments
We’ve all heard backhanded compliments before. “Oh my gosh, I love that dress on you! You can barely tell how much weight you’ve gained!” That kind of thing.
Passive-aggressive people will often develop a bad attitude in general if something sets them off. They usually will not tell you what the problem is or how to try and fix it.
If you’ve experienced these passive aggressive behaviors, you probably wonder…
- What’s this person’s deal?
- What did I do to tick them off?
- How should I handle this?
If you can relate, then you’ve come to the right place!
If you think simply being nice and highly apologetic is going to win them over, think again.
Unfortunately these people have been passive aggressive for many years now, and your sweet kindness won’t be their cure all.
5 Secrets to Managing A Passive Aggressive Person
1. Be Assertive
When communicating with a passive aggressive person, assertiveness is the necessary way to be.
Being assertive means…
- Discussing issues in an open and honest way.
- Looking to find a solution rather than someone to blame.
- Expressing yourself while still respecting the needs of others.
- Not taking the passive aggressive person’s bait by responding emotionally.
- Recognizing fighting fire with fire is only going to escalate the blaze.
Let’s say someone says “thank you,” but they say it with a sigh and an eye roll. Don’t try to analyze the situation. Either say “You’re welcome” or say nothing at all.
In general you should use neutral language and logical “I statements” when managing their behavior.
2. See It as an Opportunity
As infuriating as it can be at times, try to see this passive aggressive person as an opportunity for you.
- By dealing with them you will be able to develop your assertive communication skills.
- Plus you will improve your own traits – like patience and compassion.
3. Stay Calm and Don’t Escalate
When a passive aggressive person is using their tricks on you, it can be difficult not to become angered. Escalating the situation won’t solve anything.
On some level, they want you to get angry. If you become enraged, you’ll look like the bad guy. They’ll look like the justified victim.
People who communicate passive aggressively have often used that strategy for most of their lives.
Remember: The best revenge is not letting them get to you.
- If you know you have to talk to a passive aggressive person, you might want to meditate in advance.
- By meditating you will make sure you are in a calm and confident frame of mind.
You can try doing simple 2 minute meditations – like I share in my book Instant Calm. Meditation helps you to develop the superpower of being calm in tough situations. Learn more here!
Be aware of your vulnerabilities
Instead of trying to change a passive aggressive person, focus on beefing up your vulnerabilities so their annoying behavior don’t bug you as much.
Remember: The only true thing you have control over is you and your responses!
Take a look at your vulnerabilities and triggers.
- Overly willing to rationalize bad behavior
- Easily guilt tripped
- Emotionally needy and eager to be liked
- Far too open to seeing a trouble maker’s side of things
Remember: No one can hurt you without your permission.
5. Set Boundaries
When dealing with passive aggressive people, it’s essential that you set boundaries and stick to them.
At a certain point you must try to limit your interactions with a consistently irritating person.
Obviously, if you work with that person, or they are a family member, there’s only so much you can do in this aspect. But the less time you spend with them, the better.
Holding on to the wrongs done to you by passive aggressive people will hurt you way more than it will hurt them.
Forgiveness is the best way to move on from the situation.
It’s usually a lot easier said than done. Try to remember that the passive aggressive person isn’t purposefully trying to be a jerk. They are suffering a lot themselves.
Remember: Forgiveness will rid you of resentments that could cause you to act passive aggressively yourself.
Stop allowing passive aggressive people to cause upset in your life.
I offer a wide range of effective resources and techniques to protect against toxic people – in my bestselling video course, Manage and Avoid Drama Llamas.
Learn more here!