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  • Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People



Are you dealing with someone in your life who is passive-aggressive? Relating to passive-aggressive people can be just as frustrating as dealing with people that are angry, combative, dismissive, or otherwise challenging. Passive-aggressive people typically exhibit a pattern of behavior that indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between what a passive-aggressive person says and what he or she does. Behaving in a passive-aggressive manner is not only frustrating for individuals that display the behavior but those that have a relationship with them as well.

Helpful Tips to Deal with Passive Aggressive People Include:

  • Remain focused and concise

  • Do not excuse the behavior or make excuses for the behavior

  • Confront discrepancies

  • Ensure the passive-aggressive incident or behavior is not isolated to a specific event or a pattern of dysfunctional behavior.

  • Identify and determine the type of relationship you wish to have with the passive-aggressive person.

  • Try to pinpoint when the passive-aggressive person is more likely to exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors, i.e., when confronted, during mistakes, during feeling of powerlessness, frustrated, etc.

  • Avoid indulging the passive-aggressive person’s behavior, i.e., giving in to unreasonable demands for the sake of avoiding further conflict.

  • Avoid becoming the passive-aggressive person’s caretaker, i.e., constantly cleaning up after the individual’s misdeeds, trying to undo his or her damage, or rescuing the person from that of "victim"and “crisis”.

  • Allow the passive-aggressive person the opportunity to correct mistakes

  • Set consequences to lower resistance and compel cooperation

  • Remain calm and collected (do not fight resistance with resistance)

  • Avoid engaging in an unhealthy pattern of interaction with the passive-aggressive person which can lead to you becoming an additional trigger for undesirable behavior.

Passive-aggressive people typically operate covertly, often becoming resistant or sarcastic when confronted on their behavior. Unfortunately, when there is a discrepancy between verbal communications and behavior, denial, excuse making, and finger pointing are just a few of the likely responses a passive-aggressive person will exhibit. It is for this reason it is so important to remain focused, consistent, and concise when relating to someone that appears to be inconsistent in both spoken and unspoken communication.

Typical Signs of a Passive-Aggressive Person Include:

  • Avoidant behavior

  • Condescending

  • Sarcastic

  • Overly critical

  • Saying one thing but doing another

  • Not doing something that’s asked of him/her

  • Cynical, sullen or hostile attitude

  • Procrastination and intentional mistakes in response to others' demands

  • Resentment or opposition to the requests/demands of others

Reducing or stopping passive-aggressive behavior takes time, as behavior that is allowed to continue for an extended length of time, usually becomes reinforced. Passive-aggressive behavior can permeate or interfere with every faucet of one’s live, including but not limited to, relationships (vocational, familial, social & romantic), decision making, self-esteem, work performance, etc.

#PassiveAggressive #ChallengingBehaviors #AvoidantBehavior #Sarcastic #Triggers

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