It’s not always easy to figure out the ways to deal with passive-aggressive people. They love to make you feel as though you are going crazy.
The truth about dealing with passive-aggressive people lies within our ability to stay sane. So basically, they do have the power to drive us crazy, if we let them.
Considering I lived for decades with a narcissist, I am pretty familiar with this behavior, and I must admit, it damaged my mental health. Some of you, however, might be confused about what I’m talking about.
There are still those who just don’t know what’s happening to them – there are victims of this behavior who still think everything is their fault. So to clarify things, I will tell you a little bit about PA behavior.
The basics of passive aggression
You’ve seen this behavior a lot more than you realize. I want you to take a look at a few statements and think about whether or not similar things have been said to you. Have a look…
- “You look nice today, what have you done differently?”
- “Are you really going to eat all that cake? You know you can’t lose weight like that.”
- “It was just a joke. Don’t be so sensitive”
Okay, I guess these statements seem innocent enough at first glance but read them again. The first one apparently indicates that the speaker is taking a jab at the victim’s looks, saying, since they look good today, then they must have changed to look better, indicating their natural look isn’t good enough. That one might be a little hard to understand, I get it.
Take a look at the second one. This one should be obvious to you. The speaker is pressing the issue that the victim needs to lose weight instead of supporting them and letting them enjoy what they want to.
As far as the third statement goes, this one can be attached to the end of any rude or mean statement so the passive-aggressive person can shrug off all responsibilities for being unkind.
These are some of the things that passive-aggressive people do and that’s why it’s not easy to deal with them. Added to that are controlling behaviors, lying and outright gaslighting. Learning how to deal with people who exhibit passive-aggressive behavior is so difficult because it has so many different forms.
Spotting the beast
As far as recognizing these people, that’s even more difficult. Passive-aggressive people can be anybody, and it could take you years to understand what’s happening.
They could be co-workers who strive to downgrade you thus lift themselves up for promotion, they could be partners who vie for control in the relationship and they could also be mothers who demand respect.
Yes, passive aggression can inhabit anyone and many of these people have no clue about their own behavior. Spotting this behavior means paying close attention to how their responses make you feel. Always listen to your intuition and if it says something is wrong, then it is.
Your intuition will sense a hit on your self-esteem and it will warn you. If you are being insulted with a pinch of sugar, then this is 100% passive-aggressive behavior.
If you are being attacked and the attack is followed by the words, “I’m just joking”. Then this is also passive-aggressive behavior. Most of the time, the aggressor will be smiling and laughing when it’s really a joke and you will know the difference in the tone of voice.
If you want detail about how to spot this behavior, check out these quick indicators.
- Sullen, moody or argumentative
- Detection of resentment or envy
- Exaggeration and persistent complaining
- Complaining about being misunderstood or underappreciated
- Careless behavior or mood
Women tend to be more passive aggressive than men, where men are more actively rude or aggressive. The majority of this behavior for women is actually seen in the workplace.
Now deal with passive-aggressive people!
On to the good part – it’s time to learn how to deal with passive-aggressive people. This will take some time to understand, and it will also take some time to fine-tune your bull crap radar.
So, with that being said, here are the steps to dealing with the crazy-making behavior.
Discover the reward for their behavior
The first thing you have to do is identify why this behavior works for the passive-aggressive person. Does it make them happy to make you angry or upset? Does it make them feel better about themselves?
There is always a reason and this reason will lead you to the next step in dealing with the situation in a healthy manner.
Refuse to reward them
After you discover what makes this passive-aggressive behavior worth their while, refuse to give them what they want. When they don’t get their reward for bad behavior, then this action will backfire on them. They might think twice before using this PA behavior again.
Use indirect confrontation
If someone calls you names during passive aggression, then let them know this hurts you. If they say you are too sensitive, tell them again, “When you call me names, it hurts my feelings.”
Finally, if they persist and say that you have a problem with getting offended, then you answer with, “That may be so, but the fact remains that you hurt my feelings”.
From here, if they come with another demeaning remark, then you can tell them that they must not care about your feelings or they would respect them.
This might not make them stop immediately but it will make them grow weary of going through all this every time they make a rude remark. Eventually, they will use this behavior less.
Remember to always stay calm. Passive-aggressive people feed off your frustration and sadness. If they can lower your self-esteem, they can feel better about themselves.
The truth is, passive aggression comes from a problem deep within the perpetrator that makes them lash out in times of mental distress. Instead of taking responsibility, it’s easier for them to always be the victim.
Why do passive-aggressive people behave this way?
Unfortunately, it’s unclear about how the words “passive-aggressive” originated. It’s also hard to pinpoint what causes this behavior to arise in individuals.
There are, however, more passive-aggressive tendencies noticed in the firstborn child, which is incredibly interesting. Apparently, it is due to the higher level of responsibilities delegated to this child during their lifetime.
Passive-aggressive behavior is also seen in most narcissistic individuals, as it is a predominant trait shared among them.
With all this being said, I hope you learn how to deal with the passive-aggressive person in your life as well. If you suffer from these traits, then be honest with yourself and strive to improve your way of life.
Getting rid of these negative behaviors will help you bond with other people and share the love in a healthy way.
I wish you all the best!