Dealing With Passive-Aggressive Behavior

(Last Updated On: May 2, 2012)

All of us have people in our lives who we wish we did not have to deal with. Sometimes these are co-workers or even our supervisors. Sometimes they might even be family members or friends of our friends. No matter who they are or what it is that they do that you do not like, there is a way to deal with these people without feeling angry or hurting others. The following tips can help you deal with these people or their behaviors.

1. Act like you do not understand.
If you are dealing with someone who makes passive aggressive comments that are aimed at you, acting like you did not catch the comment may help. Many times these types of comments are used to get attention. If you do not oblige, they will likely stop or at least decrease.

2. Be careful when calling people on their behavior.
Passive-aggressive people do not like to be called on their behavior. However, because they have been passive about how they think and feel, it gives them an out to act like they do not know what you are talking about when confronting them. This can lead to frustration on your part. If you do decide to confront them, asking them questions, rather than accusing, may be the best approach. However expect and be prepared to except the explanations. This does allow you to show this person that you are highly suspect of the intent behind their behavior, which may prevent you from being the target in future. Whatever you do, do not show that you are frustrated.

3. Learn to laugh at yourself.
If a passive-aggressive comment is made about you, laugh about it and say “you’re probably right.” Again, if you do not give the response that this person was looking for, the behavior may decrease or even stop.

4. Reach out to this person.
This can be difficult to do to someone who is not acting in your best interest. When people are passive-aggressive, they are often unhappy in their own lives. Extending an invitation, or showing acceptance can help to decrease the thoughts of inadequacy that are the basis of the passive-aggressive behavior. In the least, it may keep you from being a future target.

5. Remember that others can’t control how you feel.
Remember that this person can’t make you feel anything. If you feel angry, ask yourself why you feel this way. Is it because you are hanging on to pride? Are you worried that others will think that person is right? Remind yourself that you can only feel as bad as you allow the other person to affect you.

6. Separate the person from the behavior.
If this is someone who you usually like and respect, remember that a whole person is not necessarily his/her behaviors. It will help you to deal with that person if you are not going into the situation feeling angry about their behavior and labeling that person as something that they are not.

7. Don’t reason with unreasonable thinking.
If a person is not willing to take responsibility for his/her behavior, do not push your agenda any further. This will only lead you to feel frustrated, which will likely show, and further encourage verbal attacks in the future.

This is a small list that will hopefully help you in dealing with the passive-aggressive behaviors of others. Although dealing with people who exhibit this behavior can be a challenge, it is not at all impossible. Remember to put your pride aside when dealing with passive-aggressive behavior, because that is usually what leads us to feel upset about the attacks. If you can do this, you will find that your work, home and family lives will greatly improve, because you will not feel the need to be on the defense of a behavior that can’t be confronted.

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Dealing With Passive-Aggressive Behavior