People express emotions and feelings differently; some people have the ability to voice out what they feel while others struggle in doing so and end up bottling up. Among those who cannot express their feelings are people with passive-aggressive behavior. Passive-aggressive people make you constantly feel like you are an emotional rollercoaster, their behavior is contradictory, confusing, and complex, and can leave you puzzled when they suddenly lash out you for a reason you don’t understand, but in their own mind they have hundreds of reasons.
Dealing with a passive-aggressive person is draining whether as colleagues, friends, family, or partners. Since it is not easy spotting such behavior, here is what you need to know.
What is a passive-aggressive behavior?
Passive-aggression is a subtle expression of anger without directly addressing the issue or the reason why this person is angry. Instead of confrontation or saying what they’re really thinking, they resort to other tactics like silent treatment to avoid conflict. Though on the outside, the whole passive-aggression issue might look and sound subtle and discreet, in fact, it can erode relationships.
Signs you are dealing with a passive-aggressive person
• They don’t express their anger directly. Instead of opening up and letting you know how you’ve made them upset, they will express their anger in the most confusing ways like rolling eyes, giving an attitude, or even slamming doors in your presence.
• Deliberately doing things that irritate others. They would intentionally show up late to your meeting time, ignore your calls and messages or pretend to forget your special occasions such as your birthday.
• They say one thing and mean the other. They insist they are totally fine when they are not and when asked if they are angry or upset the answer is always ‘no’ but would act in a resentful way. They also don’t know how to express their discontent with something, for example, they could tag along with plans instead of saying ‘no’ then act totally distant and weird throughout the day.
• They send mixed signals. They bottle up their anger and hide their feelings of resentment by pretending they are happy. As a result, the passive-aggressive people feel they are treated unfairly and are taken for granted while people around them may not even recognize what is really going.
• They resort to silent treatment. Instead of confrontation, they would give you the silent treatment as a punishment for your wrongdoing and distance themselves from you to the point of even ignoring your presence.
• They expect people to read their minds. Their behavior stems from the perception that this behavior is conveying their message loud and clear enough.
How to deal with someone who is passive-aggressive
1. Help them open up and encourage a productive confrontation.
2. Avoid putting yourself in a win-lose situation and rather seek a conclusion.
3. Stay calm
4. Be direct in conveying your message and calling out the issue but also avoid being offensive
5. Be fair in acknowledging your mistakes if any, or clear out the misunderstanding.