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.
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.