Passive-aggressive behavior is a way of resolving a conflict that does not actually lead to a solution to the problem. Passive aggression can destroy relationships. People prone to this behavior immediately agree to something, but then behave differently, which is why they are often called two-faced. They hide their feelings of discontent, anger, irritation, resentment and do not talk to the person who offended them (this is a passive part of the behavior), but then behave aggressively, which spoils the relationship or hurts the second person. If you feel like you are facing passive aggression, this article will show you how you should behave.
Method 1 of 3: Signs of Passive Aggression
Step 1. Consider if the person is trying to piss you off
People who are prone to passive-aggressive behavior take pleasure in how others lose their composure. They themselves behave calmly and as if they were innocent. If you feel like the person is trying to throw you off balance while staying calm, chances are you are experiencing passive aggression.
For example, your roommate continues to wear your makeup even after you asked her not to. If you raise this issue, and she pretends that she does not understand what is at stake, this may mean passive aggression. She may pretend she didn't know you didn't like it and even start enjoying your reaction
Step 2. Learn to recognize insults disguised as compliments
Passive-aggressive people often give these compliments. Sometimes the person to whom they are intended does not even realize that he has been humiliated, but the person who paid the compliment feels satisfaction from the process.
For example, a passive-aggressive person might say to a colleague who has just been promoted, “Congratulations! Such a compliment hints that the person is not so successful because it took him too long to get a new position
Step 3. Reflect on broken promises
Passive-aggressive people often promise to do something, but then avoid commitments. They can break promises they make in order to anger others.
For example, a friend offers to help you with cleaning, but at the appointed time she writes to you that she is not feeling well and cannot come. If this happens once, it will be understandable, but if it is repeated constantly, it may indicate passive aggression
Step 4. Try to figure out if the person is hiding his feelings and is trying to avoid talking
In passive-aggressive behavior, the person refuses to talk about what upsets him. He declares that everything is in order, but inside he is furious.
- For example, a friend who is prone to passive aggression may say that he is not upset, although you see the opposite, may refuse to talk to you or not answer your calls and messages.
- At the same time, if it is difficult for a person to talk about his feelings, this does not mean that he is aggressive. In the case of true passive aggression, other signs are observed, especially the tendency to strike suddenly or undermine the relationship later.
Step 5. Analyze how the person treats others
In a new relationship, a passive-aggressive person may initially try to suppress their behavior, but you can draw conclusions about the person by observing how they interact with others. It is especially important how he speaks about previous relationships and about parents and leaders.
- Have you noticed that a person often speaks badly about someone, but never tries to solve the problem with these people? Does he himself try to spoil relations with others? Does he try to attract people to him and then disappoint them? Does he hide tender feelings and is he trying to use children as a means to get what he wants (in the case of former romantic partners or parents)? All of this describes passive aggression.
- Remember that even if your friend or partner is treating you well now, as the relationship develops, he may begin to behave with you just like everyone else.
Step 6. Pay special attention to sarcasm
Many people use sarcasm to laugh, but a person who constantly makes sarcastic remarks may try to disguise their true feelings with sharp words.
Remember that passive aggression involves hushing up your feelings and expressing them in actions after a while. Discontent and anger can manifest itself in sarcasm, especially if the person's humor is very caustic
Step 7. Look for patterns
All signs of passive aggression, including sarcasm, broken promises, making excuses, avoiding conversations, and a martyr complex, can occur from time to time in healthy people.
This behavior becomes a problem if it is persistent and has a negative impact on the relationship
Method 2 of 3: Talking to a Passive-Aggressive Person
Step 1. Be honest
Tell the person directly, but not rudely, that their behavior is hurting you. Try to talk about yourself and your feelings, not the person. For example, instead of "You messed up our project at work," say, "Our project failed and I want us to do a better job next time."
Most likely, if you say that you are unpleasant about a person's behavior, he will deny everything (remember that such people do not like to talk about their feelings, and even more they do not like it when someone else starts talking about them). Talk only about facts and examples, but be prepared for resistance and denial
Step 2. Try to understand the person
A person prone to passive aggression may carry a sense of his own uselessness and problems from childhood, which makes it difficult for him to express his feelings.
- Conversation will help you understand the reasons for passive-aggressive behavior, if the person is willing to be honest with you, and you are willing to listen and not judge.
- Ask questions about childhood, adolescence, first relationships (especially if they ended badly) and about other life situations where the open expression of your feelings could lead to undesirable consequences. Remember that passive aggression is often a way to deal with difficulties in negative situations that cause feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.
Step 3. Decide if it's worth keeping the relationship
As a result of the conversation, you may come to the conclusion that the relationship can be saved or that the person will never change. Everything will depend on the person's reaction to your words.
Often, breaking up is the only way to get rid of passive aggression against you. But if the person acknowledges the problem and is willing to work on it, the relationship can be saved with the help of special simple communication techniques
Method 3 of 3: Communication in a relationship with passive aggression
Step 1. Work on trust
All people in any relationship need to feel confident. This allows you to speak openly about your feelings without hiding them under passive aggression.
- The person must believe in the relationship. To be able to talk about your true feelings when you are in pain, angry, or hurt, you need to make sure that everything you say will be heard and accepted. Confidence in a relationship does not appear immediately, and for it to be, both partners must always be ready to help each other in any situation.
- A person must believe in himself. If a person wants to talk about his thoughts, he must know that his words are worth saying them out loud. The passive-aggressive partner needs to work on self-confidence, and the relationship will only benefit from this. WikiHow has articles on how to build self-confidence.
Step 2. Learn to acknowledge your feelings
Both partners in a relationship should be able to do this. Often passive-aggressive people do not recognize and understand their feelings immediately and begin to understand them later.
Analyze how anger, sadness, discomfort, and other feelings affect your physical well-being. When you feel an emotional response to any event, monitor the sensations in your body. Has your heart started beating faster? Do your palms sweat? Is there tightness in the chest? Can you think? Do you find it difficult to find the right words? Return to this situation later and try to define your feelings
Step 3. Agree on the rules of communication
If the relationship has already suffered from passive aggression, it means that your old rules were not working. It is important to talk over the new rules of communication so that everyone knows what each partner expects from each other.
- Show respect. Develop fair and mature rules of conduct when dealing with disputes, including avoiding slamming doors, calling names, sarcasm, insults, and threats. Be guided by what respect means to you.
- Don't take personal space away from each other. Remember that some people need to move away from the fight in order to be able to return to the issue under discussion and talk about it rationally. This allows you to find mutually beneficial solutions.
- Talk about your thoughts. It is important to avoid passivity and not hide your feelings. At the same time, it should be remembered that it will be difficult for a person with passive-aggressive tendencies to talk about how he is feeling. Agree that everyone can talk about their feelings without fear of negative consequences. You can write down your feelings. This will relieve you of excess emotions.
Step 4. Do not indulge the aggressor
Often people tend to interact with passive-aggressive people because of a psychological need to fix them or because the pathological behavior of such people seems familiar and safe (for example, if your parents often showed passive aggression in the past, you can look for this the same tendency in romantic partners or friends).
- You will encourage passive-aggressive behavior by apologizing for the person, covering them up, and trying to keep them from making bad decisions.
- You will also encourage this behavior by keeping quiet about the problem, not pointing out difficulties in communication, and forgiving the bad attitude towards yourself. This will make it clear to your partner that you will not resist destructive behavior.
- Passive aggression is also encouraged if you punish your partner or friend for talking about their feelings. Do you lose your temper if a friend tells you he doesn't want to date today? This will force him to come up with excuses and break promises for fear of pissing you off. If you refuse to talk about feelings, your partner will stop talking on his own, and frustration will build up.