How to stop passive-aggressive behavior

Your co-worker is angry at you, so he calls in sick the day before your joint presentation and causes you to miss out on a promotion. Your wife is upset with you, but instead of confronting you, she "accidentally" bumps the lawnmower into your car, scratching off the paint.

People with passive-aggressive behavior suppress their aggressive responses and allow their anger come out in more subtle ways.

Because passive-aggressive behavior is not overt, it can be hard to recognize and even harder to stop. Although passive-aggressive responses can temporarily delay a confrontation, this behavior can be very damaging to your relationship. It is crucial to identify passive-aggressive patterns and develop strategies to communicate more effectively.

Tips to stop passive-aggressive behavior

  • Recognize the red flags. Signs of passive-aggressive behavior commonly include procrastination, pretending not to remember or understand requests, giving the silent treatment, sulking, and talking behind your back.
  • Reveal the elephant in the room. Passive-aggressive people work to avoid overtly expressing their feelings. One of the most powerful ways to confront a passive-aggressive person is to confront that person directly. Confront the person in an assertive, but non-judgemental way, for example: "It seems like you are angry with me."
  • Be clear about your expectations. If you want something done, make sure you are clear about the timeframe and quality of work needed.
  • Do not get involved. A passive-aggressive person will try to get you to lash out in anger. Do not get involved in this power struggle. It will only escalate the conflict.

Get help

Are you stuck in a passive-aggressive relationship? Do you struggle to confront people directly and find it easier to passively sabotage their plans?

Whether you are facing a passive-aggressive acquaintance or you struggle with passive-aggressive tendencies yourself, therapy can help you stop passive-aggressive behavior. Therapy can help you communicate more effectively, improving your relationships at work and at home. You can learn how to recognize passive-aggressive behavior and develop strategies to confront issues in a direct and positive manner.

Contact one of our therapists today to learn more about how they can help or to learn more about online therapy.

Click here to connect with a therapist who can help you stop passive-aggressive behavior.

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