They come in various forms such as your dear mum, dear husband or even a househelp like in my case. Passive aggressive people seek to control other people’s emotions, thereby controlling their behavior.
For example, when calling out my househelp about her mistakes in the home, she will get angry and try to make me feel guilty. In the end, she will not do what I wanted her to do in the first place. That means that I will get mad again and the vicious cycle continues. In the end, I will just stop talking about the whole thing and prefer to take on the task myself.
According to Dr. Monica A. Frank, passive-aggressive people show their anger indirectly and this means that they can deny any responsibility for any anger resulting from their behavior while scoring a direct hit on their intended target.
The worst thing is that is that their behavior can really play havoc with your self-esteem. For example, a person who announces to the world that you are fat from excessive eating while making it sound as innocent as possible. They may say something like, “Sweetie you are having more dessert? It is not good of for you, you know” Between good friends it can be good advice but in front of many people it can really bring down your self-esteem.
You never see the attack coming, in fact, it will come from a seemingly kind person, the one that will never hurt you but will leave you in tears with their piercing tongue.
Then there are those who will never refuse to do anything but will agree then come up with the lamest excuse on earth as to why they could not do it. I know some who have “killed” their grandmothers several times when trying to explain why they could not do something.
Have you ever met those that whine, sulk or charm you into doing something instead of just asking for what they want directly? They will do that until you offer them whatever they want just remember they did not ask for it, you offered. This means that they do not owe you anything, comprende?
It is also never their fault. They are not bad and according to them, they are always the victim. Clinical psychologist Randy Paterson explains passive-aggressive behavior as:
In all cases you get your own way, but you have a plausible excuse that allows you to escape taking responsibility for your actions. You manage to avoid being confronted by those who are affected. If they try to confront you, you can always deny any intent (“No, I really wanted to be on time, but the bus was late.”)
Such people can really drive you nuts buts since you do not live on an island, you have to know how to deal with them. According to Dr. Frank, the best way of recognizing passive-aggressive behavior is through analyzing the reason and process of the behavior.
As aforementioned, the purpose is to control and /or deflect responsibility for anger. This will cause anger or frustration on the part of the recipient, which will eventually cause conflict. That is unless the recipient handles it in a passive manner by swallowing, discounting, ignoring their anger.
One of the ways of identifying a passive aggressive person is that they leave a wave of destruction in their wake. You can be a victim once but if such situations keep repeating themselves over and over again then it is definitely not bad luck.
According to Albert Bernstein who wrote Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, such people also have a history of interpersonal problems that, according to them, come out of nowhere to plague them. They come from a two-dimensional world where there can only be villains and victims. They often talk about their dysfunctional relationships on the first date or personality conflicts on their job interview.
How to deal with passive aggressive people
- Identify their reward
There is always one with passive aggressive people and they range from getting their way to feeling better by transferring their anger, anxiety, and stress to you. Once you identify the reward you will ensure that they do not get the reward. Your response will determine if they get their reward or not.
2.Choose an achievable outcome
Before responding to a person’s passive aggressive behavior you should choose an outcome and this could be a desire to see them change, to derail their behavior so that they are not rewarded or manage the fallout or other people’s perceptions. In most situations, you may want to sidestep their trap and ensure that they have stopped the PA behavior.
- Always remain calm
In such situations, only calm people will succeed. Remember the PA person is long for someone to blame and trust me if you let the anger get the best of you then it will all be on you. Despite your goal and chosen form of response, it is wise to always remain calm to avoid falling into their trap.
Granted, it is not easy to remain calm when dealing with PA people because they may be people who know you well. This means that they might attempt to push your most sensitive buttons, thereby making it very hard for you to remain calm. If you think this can happen to you it is important to try some role-playing in front of the mirror and try to practice being calm.