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Dealing with passive aggressive behaviour

Dealing with passive aggressive behaviour

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We’ve all come across passive aggressive behaviour. In fact, we may be guilty of it ourselves from time to time. However, some people display passive aggressive behaviour persistently. It becomes a habit that is difficult to break and has a negative effect on relationships. So how do you spot passive aggressive behaviour and what is the best way to deal with it?

What is passive aggressive behaviour?

Passive aggressive behaviour usually occurs when people bottle things up. If they are feeling angry or upset about something they will make life difficult for a person, throw dirty looks or start being awkward rather than telling the person what’s the matter. Passive aggression can be sly and concealed or it can be totally blatant and in your face.

How to spot it

As many passive aggressives try to hide their manipulation, it can be tricky to spot. However, if you regularly feel negative energy coming from someone in your life, you may be prey to passive aggressive behaviour. Signs of passive aggression can include avoiding or ignoring a person, sulking, being unwilling to discuss a situation. Also self pity, portraying themself as a victim and making life difficult for or criticising another person. Someone displaying signs of passive aggressive behaviour may be trying to keep their feelings to themselves but accidentally reveal them through their actions. Other people are well aware of what they are doing.

How to deal with passive aggressive behaviour

Dealing with passive aggressive behaviourTalk

If the other person is unwilling to discuss things with you then this may seem like an uphill struggle. However, by voicing your feelings you’re letting the person know that you have recognised their behaviour, knowing they have an unresolved issue. Recognising someone else’s feelings doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t at least try to talk things through.


Making an effort to find out what triggers passive aggressive behaviour in someone and understanding where they’re coming from can help put an end to it. It may not do much to help the current situation but it can stop it from happening in the future. Knowing the reasons behind why someone acts this way can help limit damage to your relationship.

Set rules

Make clear what behaviours you are not willing to put up with. For example, if someone is always late meeting with you, give that person a deadline; you won’t wait longer than 10 minutes after the arranged time before leaving. Setting clear boundaries will help you to get on with your own life even if the other person chooses to ignore them.

Don’t rise to it

A passive aggressive person is usually looking for a reaction. One of the best ways to deal with the behaviour is not to offer one. Avoid getting annoyed or upset, at least in front of the person, as that is the reaction they’re looking for. Staying cool by either; ignoring it or sticking up for yourself in a calm manner will go much further in nipping the behaviour in the bud. Refuse to participate and it will go away much quicker.

Don’t take it personally

It may feel like passive aggressive behaviour is a direct attack on you, in most cases it probably isn’t. It may be directed at a situation or be a defence mechanism used by someone who has experienced many knocks in life. Remember that the person would react the same, whether it was you or someone else that they had an issue with.








About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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