What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior & What to Do! (Part 1 of 2)
There are several types of communication and behaviors; Aggressive, Assertive and Passive-
Agressive. I will briefly define them:
Aggressive Communication: Emotions tend to be angry hostile and blaming, behaviors are big, bold, scary, yelling, controlling and demanding. They can also be quiet & monotone but soothingly angry with words spoken through clenched teeth.
Assertive Communication: Emotions are calm and even matter of fact. Behavior is calm and communication is clear and concise and usually includes consideration of the other person.
Passive-Aggressive Communication: Emotions can be all over the place but typically they are not loud. Interactions with someone who is passive-aggressive leaves you feeling like you are not sure at all what is going on and maybe even like you’re the one who is crazy. Typically you also come out looking like the “bad” one and they are the “victim”.
Emotions are also incongruent, for example, the person may say something “off” or slightly rude, with a smile on their face and then go behind your back and tell others how you mistreated them. It really is like honey-covered hostility.
How to Recognize You Are Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Communication Styles:
~They use the silent treatment to control
~They ignore and or refuse to talk about a problem or deny there is a problem
~They withhold praise or compliments
~They are critical (but again maybe with a smile on their face so that you are confused)
~They tend to sabotage, for example, they always run late but don’t apologize. They might even talk about how they are on time so much (incongruent behavior with speech) Another example is they “forget” to do the things asked of them or will flat out deny they have been asked to do something.
~They may also quietly poke at you or bug you until you get angry and then go into victim mode.
So how do people learn passive-aggressive behavior. They have learned along the way that they can get what they want; needs met, by using this type of communication style. It can come from growing up in a family where one parent is dominant and the other is subservient and so they learn that they cannot approach dominant or conflict prone people directly. They learn that it ok to lie and keep secrets in order to get needs met or avoid conflict. Another example of passive-aggressive behavior is, one we have heard, “Don’t tell your Father.”
This way of communication and behavior becomes a defense mechanism and some passive-aggressive people don’t recognize that they behave and communicate that way.
Before you are quick to say that you do not practice passive aggressive communication, stop for a minute and ask yourself when was the last time you said “yes” to something that you really wanted to say “no” to and then felt angry and resentful and like a victim? Everyone uses this type of communication once in a while but when it is a consistent method for getting needs met, it interferes with relationships and life, then it is a problem.
I said this blog would talk about the “what to do” about it. Stay tuned for part 2 for the answers!