Nobody wants to be around a person who is passive aggressive, is uncomfortable and unpleasant … Imagine that you are in a jungle, you are being careful when suddenly a poisonous rattlesnake attacks you. What are you doing? You walk away and run for safety! Now imagine that you are walking down such a path, and you find yourself in the clutches of a boa constrictor. Without knowing it, little by little it squeezes you until it is too late for you to escape. The first trigger is a metaphor for a confrontational response, while the second is a passive-aggressive one.

Whether you are in a relationship with someone who displays their anger in a passive-aggressive way, or you recognize those behavior patterns within yourself, to more effectively relate to others, consider eliminating this emotional response by acknowledging the behavior. , verifying your perceptions, confronting it and creating a safe space to communicate more assertively.

Recognize passive aggressive behavior

Passive aggressive behavior is like a behavior pattern in which negative feelings are expressed indirectly and not directly. A passive-aggressive person may accept a request, but express resentment simply by ignoring the task at hand. They say they are going to do one thing, and they do another: there is a clear disconnect between what they commit to and what they actually follow. 

On the surface they can be obedient, polite and friendly, but when you start to dig a little into their person, you may find that things are not what they seem. The first step in eliminating passive-aggressive behavior is learning to recognize it.

Practice perception control

Since you can’t read someone else’s mind, the closest you can get to that is learning more about what someone else is thinking. Perception testing is recommended to help facilitate more effective communication . 

Ideally, follow the following three steps:

    • Discover the behavior
    • Talk about possible interpretations of the behavior
  • Request clarification or explanation on how to interpret the behavior

Confirming the understanding of what you think the other is saying by checking your perceptions can be a bridge to more accurate interpretations of what you are communicating and give better explanations for the reasoning of your actions.

Coping with the behavior

If a passive-aggressive person is allowed to continue his behavior patterns, the destructive pattern is perpetuated.  If you allow this behavior to occur, even when you think you are helping, deep down you are reinforcing what you want to eliminate. Instead, signal the person to behavior that indicates passive aggressiveness on their part. 

Make the inconsistency between their words and actions known, and pay attention to their actions rather than their words, giving the person feedback on what their actions tell you about their feelings. Try to be assertive, open and honest, and by doing so, you can invite the other to do the same. Interacting with people that way can make your relationships more honest.

Safe space for relationships

At the end of the day, for a passive-aggressive person to open up and eliminate their behavior patterns, there must be an environment of trust, where, instead of hiding beliefs and emotions, they can feel free to be open and express themselves fully. .

When people feel emotionally insecure, they resort to blaming, denying, projecting, repressing, isolating, etc. In this sense, you have to assure the other person that there are no right or wrong feelings , that it is okay to share negative thoughts and emotions. It is important to be more honest with people, even if it results in conflict, and when it does, use it to find a compromise and come up with a “win-win” solution. Over time, behavior patterns can shift into a more constructive form of communicative relationship.

People who display passive-aggressive behavior are not doing it on purpose or maliciously, they are simply not aware of it. By focusing on creating an atmosphere of understanding, you can invite people to be more assertive with you, sharing both positive and negative feelings. But remember: the nature of passive-aggressive behavior can be unpredictable. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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