Dealing With And Understanding Passive Aggressive People

Passive aggressive people can be a frustrating bunch. They tend to use sarcasm and other subtle characteristics to avoid confrontation or avoid doing certain tasks.Dealing with a passive-aggressive person can cause you to be irritated and even angry because of their inherent stubbornness and lack of concern.Many passive-aggressive people also have a negative attitude towards many situations in life and towards other people.If you have a coworker or family member with passive-aggressive tendencies, there are some things you can do to help yourself stay sane.
Recognizing the passive-aggressive traits
The first and most important way to deal with a passive-aggressive person is to recognize the behavior. If you work with a person who has a passive-aggressive personality, you will likely notice that they tend to avoid responsibility for several tasks.

They might also try to avoid working on the task by using procrastination or forgetting about it altogether. Other passive-aggressive people might simply complain about the task or create a sense of chaos so somebody else will offer to do the task instead.

Passive-aggressive people also have a unique way of interacting with others. They may seem excessively paranoid or overly sensitive about what people are saying.

They might also feel that everybody “has it in for them” and nobody wants them to be happy.

This is a way that passive-aggressive people pass off their unhappiness to outside factors rather than accepting their own ability to be happy. If they can find a way to blame others, they can shirk off the responsibility for creating their own emotions through their actions.

People who tend to be passive-aggressive are not typically open to receive suggestions for how to do things.

When a passive-aggressive person is given a suggestion or an alternative way to do something, they will generally avoid doing the task in that way out of spite for the person who gave the suggestion.

Oftentimes, passive-aggressive people will resent people who offer advice and suggestions; the people feel their way is the best way.

Even if somebody offers another way, they will resist it despite the fact that it might be a better option.

You might also notice that passive-aggressive people have a tendency to be sullen and stubborn.

Oftentimes, this appears to be like pouting or sulking and it can frustrate people around them. They might also be easily offended because they will take the things that people say to them and misconstrue them into a personal attack.

They do this because it puts others on the defensive that, in turn, helps them appear like a victim.

Even though they tend to be overly sensitive to the things people say to them, they are often quick to point out the shortcomings of others.

Passive-aggressive personalities also have a fear of intimacy. For them, intimacy is a sign of dependency and they do not like to feel dependent on anybody or anything.

Passive-aggressive people are generally self-dependent and they prefer to make their own decisions without input from others.

Although they often involve themselves in relationships, both intimate and platonic, their negativist personality traits tend to be an obstacle that presents itself.

In addition to the disdain towards intimacy and dependency, passive-aggressive personalities do not communicate well.

This trait plays into a type of self-fulfilling prophecy.

They often feel that others do not communicate well with them and, as a result, they refuse to communicate well with others. In fact, their behavior has trained others around them to avoid communication.

This leads to both parties who refuse to communicate with the other. As expected, the passive-aggressive person will blame the lack of communication on others rather than themselves.

Avoiding conflict is another personal trait that many passive-aggressive people strive towards. They typically have ideas of confronting others, but they often get scared or choose to go another route.

For example, if a passive-aggressive person lives in an apartment and their upstairs neighbor constantly blares music, the person might imagine going to the neighbor to ask them to turn it down.

Instead, the irritated tenant will do something more subtle to try and get their point across.

One option might be to turn their music up to drown out the neighbor’s music. Other passive-aggressive people might even talk to the building manager. For some, though, this action is even to confrontational.

Dealing with passive-aggressive people

While the traits described above are many of the personality characteristics of a passive-aggressive person, there are several more. People with a passive-aggressive personality might only show a few of these characteristics or any combination of these.If you have a relationship with one of these personalities, whether it is a coworker, a significant other, or a family member, there are some techniques you can use to deal with them.
Passive-aggressive people can be emotionally exhausting and frustrating.The following tips, however, can help you keep your sanity.The first rule for dealing with a passive-aggressive personality is to refrain from getting into a power struggle. They have had a lifetime of practice in doing this and you probably will not win this struggle.In the end, you will likely end up being frustrated and the other person will feel like they have won a battle against you.

Next, do not let the passive-aggressive person get to you. They usually know how to get under a person’s skin and irritate them until they become frustrated.

Once you have become irritated and frustrated, you lose any edge that you may have with them.

Passive-aggressive people often feel a sense of accomplishment when they get somebody frustrated with their subtle tendencies.

If you find yourself in an argument or struggle with a passive-aggressive personality, try to turn the tables on them.

Describe the behavior that they are exhibiting in a calm and rational manner.

They will likely deny that they are behaving in such a way and probably say that it is merely your perception, but putting them on the defensive will often make them back down.

You can also point out the inconsistencies in their behavior or their argument. Trying to see the argument from their point of view will help you debate with them with more success.

Finally, ask the passive-aggressive person how they would solve or improve the situation. Since they are accustomed to avoiding responsibility and making decisions, they will likely avoid the opportunity to give their advice.

As long as somebody else makes the major decisions, the passive-aggressive person will have somebody on which to place the blame if something goes wrong.

Passive-aggressive personality is listed as one of the abnormal personality disorders with the American Psychological Association. As such, people who suffer from a passive-aggressive personality have more limited abilities to reason with logical arguments and thoughts.

It is important to remember this if you encounter somebody who has this disorder. Rather than debating the person using the same methods you would use with logical person, you will need to use other types of arguments and techniques to get your point across.

Even though it is not a debilitating mental disorder, people with this disorder can prove to try your patience and cause a great deal of frustration.


By Chad Hagy

Published May 01, 2007

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