Passive aggressiveness is something that many people deal with at some point in their lives. Some of us are guilty of being passive aggressive from time to time, whereas others may experience it with their family members and friends. Regardless, passive aggressive behavior isn’t healthy and can be destructive to relationships. This is why it’s so important to be able to recognize a passive aggressive personality when you see it so that you can know how to deal with passive aggressive people appropriately. At the same time, you can also take steps to ensure that you don’t give off any passive aggressive traits yourself.
What Does Passive Aggressive Mean?
First of all, it’s important to understand the passive aggressive meaning. Generally, when a person refers to somebody else being passive aggressive, this means that when something is bothering him or her, he or she fails to speak up or make the situation known so that it can be addressed and resolved. Instead, a passive aggressive person will remain quiet on the outside but will be very upset on the inside.
Furthermore, people who are passive aggressive may often say mean or snippy things to others while they’re upset. However, when somebody actually asks them what’s wrong, they will act as though everything is perfectly fine.
It can be difficult to understand the passive aggressive definition laid out above, though taking a look at some basic passive aggressive examples can be helpful in answering the question of “what is passive aggressive?”
- A situation where a few co-workers go out to dinner after a shift. Another co-worker (who works a different shift) finds out that the other workers went out together and is upset that he wasn’t invited–even though there was no malice intended. The next time he sees his co-workers, he’s stand-offish with them. When they ask him what’s wrong, he tells them “nothing,” even though he continues acting brashly towards them.
- A situation where a boyfriend and girlfriend have plans to go on a date together, but the boyfriend backs out at the last second to spend time with his friends instead. He asks the girl if she will mind if they push their date back to the next night, and she says that she doesn’t mind. However, deep down, she’s angry and will hold this against him for weeks.
Now that you’ve seen some examples of passive aggressive behavior, hopefully you can better understand what the definition of passive aggressive is and identify manifestations of it in your own life.
What’s Wrong with Passive Aggressiveness?
If you’re aware of passive aggressive people in your life, then you’re probably already aware of just how much of a negative impact this kind of behavior can have on your relationships. However, if you’re the one who acts passive aggressively, then you might not understand the consequences that your behavior could be having on your relationships.
For starters, having passive aggression in your life is bad for you and the people around you. When you act passive aggressively to the people you claim to love and care about, you damage your relationship with them–even if you don’t intend to. Furthermore, if you have a passive aggressive husband or another passive aggressive person in your life, then you may feel as though the two of you argue more than you should or have more tension in your relationship than you should.
Finally, being a passive aggressive female or male is simply bad for your health. If you go around being upset with people but never really stepping forward to make your issues known or confront the problem head-on, then you’re bound to live with a great deal of anger and disappointment. Often times, if you choose to bring up what’s bothering you rather than being passive aggressive about it, you can easily address and resolve the situation.
Are You Passive Aggressive?
Sometimes, you may act in a passive aggressive manner without even realizing it. In fact, most people who act this way don’t realize what they’re doing most of the time. This is part of why it’s so important to know how to identify passive aggressiveness not only in other people, but in yourself as well.
A good way to determine whether or not you could have a passive aggressive personality is to take a passive aggressive test. If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you might have a passive aggressive personality:
- when you get upset, do you tend to remain quiet?
- would you rather stew in anger rather than address a situation that’s bothering you?
- do you go to any lengths to avoid arguments?
Dealing with Passive Aggressive People
Now that you know how to define passive aggressive personalties and are aware of the consequences that passive aggressiveness can have in your life, it’s time to learn more about how to deal with passive aggressive personalities.
For starters, if you’re the one with a passive aggressive personality, then you’re probably wondering what steps you can take to end your passive aggression so that you can improve your overall well-being in addition to your relationships with the people you care most about.
Fortunately, stopping your own passive aggressive behavior can be as easy as identifying it as it’s happening. The next time somebody does something to upset you, make a note of what they did (this can be a mental note or a physical one). Then, give yourself whatever time you need to calm down before you find the right time to bring it up to that person as calmly as possible. You could start by saying something along the lines of, “I just wanted to talk about something that’s bothering me.”
From there, you will have opened the doors for a productive conversation; the two of you can address the situation rather than letting it get worse. As a result, your relationship with this person will also improve because you won’t be holding grudges against him or her any longer.
Furthermore, it can also be helpful to read some passive aggressive quotes to help you overcome this behavior. Specifically, one great quote to keep in mind that will motivate you to avoid this kind of behavior is:
- “To let friendship die away by negligence and silence is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage.” –Samuel Johnson”
What about if you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with passive aggressiveness in other people in your life? Perhaps you have passive aggressive men or women friends that you’d like to be able to get along with better but aren’t quite sure how.
Fortunately, this is easier than you might think. The best way to deal with passive aggressive people in your life is to be able to identify the behavior as it’s happening. For example, if you notice that somebody is acting passive aggressively towards you (leaving passive aggressive notes, making snide comments, ignoring you, etc), then it might be time to sit down with this person to have a talk.
Before the talk, try to think back and consider if there’s anything you may have inadvertently done to upset this person. If you can think of anything, then the first thing you’ll want to do when you talk to this person is to apologize for that behavior. If you don’t think your behavior was in the wrong, then you can also choose to simply apologize for the fact that your behavior upset him or her.
From there, be careful not to fall into a game of “passive me aggressive you.” This can often happen when one person is being passive (in other words, doesn’t want to talk about the situation at hand) and the other person is being too aggressive (wants to address the situation right now). If the person doesn’t want to talk about it just yet, then you’ll need to respect his or her wishes. Perhaps you can ask him or her to approach you when they are ready to talk about it.
While this may not resolve the situation entirely, it will at least get the issue on the table so that it can be acknowledged and addressed, thus eliminating the need for passive aggressive behavior. From there, when you do talk about it, hopefully this will fully resolve the situation so that you can move on with your relationship and make it even stronger than it’s ever been.
Overall, dealing with passive aggressive behavior can be a pain. However, as frustrating as it can be, everybody acts passive aggressively from time to time. Fortunately, by knowing how to identify this kind of behavior and handle it appropriately, it’s possible for anybody to overcome passive aggressiveness and improve their relationships with others. Hopefully, this article will have proven helpful for you in your own efforts to overcome passive aggressiveness in your own life.