Passive aggressive behavior can be defined as a kind of indirect hostility. A person suffering from passive aggressive behavior can demonstrate behavior such as stubbornness, procrastination and repeatedly and sometimes deliberately fail to complete a given responsibility. In other words, passive aggressive behavior can be summed up as a series of self-providing resistance to perform adequately occupationally and socially and thus, demonstrating a string of restive negative attitudes.

The reason to demonstrate passive aggressiveness could bud from a childhood stimulus (abnormal childhood, continuous absence or seductiveness of parents, abusive relationship between the father and mother etc) in such an environment where the victim was not able to vent anger or frustration. Thus they look for other medium and channels through which they can express their suppressed anger.

Passive aggressive behavior was first discovered among-st the American soldiers during World War II when some of them would react differently to military compliance by deliberately demonstrating inefficiency, resentment, stubbornness and procrastination. Over the course of years, this mental disorder has gained much understanding and psychologists have propounded numerous ways to deal with individuals with passive-aggressive behavior.

Below are 10 amazing effective ways with which one can effectively handle people with passive aggressive behavior:

1. Recognizing the disorder

The first and foremost important aspect of passive aggressive disorder is to identify it. The discreet expressions of resentment can involve numerous behaviors, sometimes without people recognizing Some of the common attributes include sulking, purposely behaving inadequately, withdrawal and pretending not to understand, remember, hear or see. Recognizing the warning signs is the first vital step in disengaging.

2. Find out the history of the victim

The next step is to get to know the person with passive aggressive behavior. This will ensure that you find a link to his or her past history versus the current behavioral pattern and practice awareness accordingly. The passive aggressive behavior arises due to a person’s lack of strong mental ability and thus the inability to cope with difficult situations. As time passes, the fear of being victimized once again channelizes the victim to develop a set of resistive, defensive and survival strategies. The ideal way to interact is to ask a set of pen ended questions in a nonjudgmental manner so that the victim in any way, does not feel threatened with the conversation.

3. Accept the circumstances but refuse to participate

Once you have recognized the passive aggressive disorder, you can be on alert and decide to not get intertwined in a meaningless situation even though you feel you are being dragged into a hollow power struggle. The key is to restrict your own behavior in a way that the conflict does not go out of bounds.

4. Combat the emotion, not the person

Combating the anger of the victim is crucial to gradually help them change the behavior gradually. The resentment should be directly pointed out as passive aggressive people live their lives avoiding acknowledging their anger. It is imperative to mention that this should be done in a non-threatening way and verbiage such as ‘I think you are angry with me for…’ should be used to create a deep impact. In any case, take utter precaution to not trigger aggressive emotions.

5. Refrain from imposing

In almost all cases, a person with the passive aggressive disorder would deny the covert emotional resentment which has been lying buried in the mind for so long. In fact, he or she can deny the existence of such a feeling completely. It is advisable to not become defensive or justify your statements. Instead, reply in a composed manner that it was simply a thought that you intended to let him or her know and limit the conversation at this.

6. Refrain from trying to change them

Causes of passive aggressive behavior are deep-seated and complicated. Granted time consuming frequent lectures will not solve the problem. Instead, the victim will become frustrated and disappointed. A passive aggressive person becomes better with time, in a soothing environment when he learns to practice self-awareness. Focus on regulating your own behavior when you are with them and refrain from adopting a tit for tat strategy.

7. Display humor where appropriate

Humor can be an effective tool to disarm attacking behavior and ascertain the fact that you have a better grip on your composure. It can be used to diffuse complicated situations, break the ice and conflict management. Humor can be used in a variety of ways to deal with passive aggressive people and more than often disarms their resistive behavior.

8. Formalize all kinds of communication in grave situations

Be the one who decides the tone of the relationship with the passive aggressive person, especially during difficult situations. If the victim realizes that you will tolerate any inappropriate behavior which comes forth, you will be taken for granted. Refrain from using accusing statements which begin with ‘you’, instead ask probing questions and once the facts have been established, refrain from deliberating the truth. Speak in the third person voice if possible.

9. If possible, render the passive aggressive person an attempt to solve the problem

Much of the passive aggressive behavior arises from the victim’s innate thoughts that their opinion is never asked for or that they are never being listened to. In relevant situations, try and include the person in the discussions and willingly ask for their opinion. This way they will feel empowered and will try to come up with concrete conversations instead of complaining.

10. Maintain distance whenever possible

If you are not a psychiatrist or an expert, refrain from getting involved. Dealing with passive-aggressive people on a regular basis is not easy. Maintaining distance would ensure that you are not igniting any difficult situation unknowingly and creating trouble for yourself too.

Such strategies and effective skills can be employed to gain cooperation and cause minimal damage to the passive aggressive individuals. Alternatively, dealing with such behavior improves your problem handling skills, helps you maintain composure and confidence.


Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith is a blogger, designer and writer. She enjoys writing articles for almost all topics. Career, Web, Social Media and Self Improvement are her Favourite topics. Apart from this she is also a great Animal Lover and loves to volunteer for few Rescue Centers. For more about her visit or connect with her on Google+ and Twitter

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  • Denise Andersen

    at 6:32 pm

    What a great article. Thanks

  • Mary Lynn

    at 5:18 pm

    What if you’re married to one? I thought he was a narcissist (court-ordered psychologist said “paranoid” traits), but this sounds exactly like him. After 10 years of trying to have rational discussions and an equal partnership, I just became angry and frustrated and even passive-aggressive myself. Finally, I just had to say “therapy or divorce” and of course, he chose divorce. Running was always his strong suit and now it makes sense. Why is it so hard for these people to get help??? I walked on eggshells as long as I could walk, when I was injured and in a wheelchair, I had to give up!!!! Keep on shining the light!


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