Passive aggressive behavior is defined as indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.
In simple terms, it involves acting indirectly aggressive rather than directly aggressive.
Because of this, it creates a separation between what people say and what people do.
A passive-aggressive person may appear to agree with another person’s request. However, the former will fail to follow through because of their underlying resentment.
The problem with someone who has a passive-aggressive disorder is that you never know what they truly feel.
They might appear polite, friendly, down-to-earth, kind and well-meaning.
However, underneath the nice façade, there may be manipulation going on.
What causes passive-aggressive behavior?
Passive aggression is considered a form of emotional abuse in relationships.
It destroys the trust between people because of the immense hurt and pain for all parties.
This behavior is different because it is more persistent and repeats periodically.
Causes of this behavior can be parenting style, family dynamics, and other childhood influences.
However, there are also some conditions that are associated with passive-aggression and they are as follows:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- anxiety disorders
- conduct disorder
- oppositional defiant disorder
- bipolar disorder
- schizotypal personality disorder
- alcohol abuse
- cocaine withdrawal
Because passive-aggressive behavior is indirect, it can be hard to spot.
Here are 10 signs to help you identify passive aggressive behavior:
1. Silent treatment
In simple words, silent treatment refers to completely ignoring another person.
It means refusing to answer any questions from the person or downright refusing to acknowledge their presence.
2. Subtle insults
Most of us recognize when we are insulted.
The problem with passive-aggression is that it can lead to subtle insults, which can be harder to recognize.
An example is when a colleague pretends to give you a compliment, yet it’s really an insult in disguise.
A passive-aggressive person will display sullen behavior – subtly grumpy, sulky, gloomy, sour, or moody.
The person won’t smile, even when the whole group is laughing.
Then, a passive aggressive person subtly complains about everything around them. It makes everyone in the workplace uncomfortable.
A person with passive-aggressive behavior shows stubbornness to punish someone.
The person will defend his position only because he knows that it will annoy the person he dislikes.
5. Failure to finish required tasks
This means the person refuses to do what they’re told.
They almost always find a way to avoid the tasks that need to be completed.
If someone shows this behavior frequently and the behavior is not because of stress, it can count as passive-aggressive behavior.
6. Fear of competition
A passive-aggressive person noticeably avoids situations where one party will be seen as better at something.
A person with this disorder will be cryptic.
Instead of being clear to what he wants to say, the person will not be fully engaged in conversations.
8. Chronic lateness
This is particularly seen when you have a passive-aggressive workmate.
It is a way to put you in control over others and their expectations.
9. Victim mentality
A person with passive-aggressive behavior is unable to look at what they’ve done wrong.
They will behave like they are the victim in the situation to get attention or sympathy.
10. Withholding behavior
Withholding usual behaviors or roles can be seen as a sign of a passive-aggressive behavior.
For example: sex, cooking or cleaning to reinforce an already unclear message to the other party.
According to Andrea Brandt from Berkeley, when a person grows up believing that anger is never allowed, the person won’t be able to express it in a healthy way.
The negative effect of passive aggressive behavior
If you are the one suffering from passive aggressive behavior, you are are shutting yourself out from the world.
However, when you are on the receiving end of passive aggression, it is normal to get confused and offended.
After all, it is an indirect attack on you.
Here are the effects of this behavior:
- It breeds insecurity
- It creates a bad atmosphere between people
- It causes conflict where either both or one party cannot engage sensibly in the issues
- It avoids the real issues
- It creates harbors resentment
How to cope with passive-aggressive behavior:
For people suffering from passive-aggressive behavior, it is okay to express your anger and frustrations.
A calm discussion about what is happening is needed without blaming anyone.
Remember to focus and get on with your life in a positive way.