How Do You Know If Someone Has a Passive Aggressive Behaviour?

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Published: 12th March 2006
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Passive aggressive behavior occurs when someone uses an indirect or subtle means of expressing their anger or hostility. An aggressive person might respond in an argument by displaying a violent temper and perhaps even physical violence. Someone who is passive aggressive may respond to a disagreement with another person by refusing to acknowledge or speak to them. 


You may be wondering what the signs of passive aggressive behavior are. Passive aggressiveness can be exhibited in a lot of different ways and of course each passive aggressive individual will have their own individual style if you will. A common example of passive aggressive behavior is the cold shoulder. This occurs when a person withdraws into long silences or refuses to look at the person who has angered them. There are a couple of reasons that they might do this, and the first is to avoid confrontation with the one who has angered them. Some people will also use the silent treatment or cold shoulder to demonstrate their anger; they want you to notice that they aren't talking to you. They want you to try to talk to them so that they can continue to ignore you. Intentional inefficiency is another example of passive aggressive behavior, and this occurs when someone intentionally fails to show up on time or to complete a task to which they have previously been assigned. 


Convenient forgetfulness is another example of passive aggressive behavior. Convenient forgetfulness is when someone attempts to win an argument by a complete denial of actual events. They will insist that their version of events is completely right and yours is completely fabricated, when in fact the opposite is true. Passive aggressive people can also exhibit a victimization response. This just means that they will always blame others for their own failures and weaknesses. Ambiguous or cryptic speech is another characteristic of a passive aggressive personality. The passive aggressive person will be intentionally vague and this can in turn make those around them question themselves and feel insecure. 


A few other examples of passive aggressive behavior are irritability or a chronic hostile or cynical attitude. Inefficiency, procrastination, and sullenness are also traits that are often visible in a passive aggressive personality. Individuals who are passive aggressive may also complain a lot about being unappreciated or cheated out of opportunities. Please keep in mind that some of these symptoms and behaviors can be an indication of many other personality and psychological disorders.


There are many reasons that someone might exhibit passive aggressive behavior or develop passive aggressive tendencies. One of the reasons someone might develop passive progressive tendencies stems from growing up in a house where that behavior was common. Children learn how to express their emotions including anger and sadness by watching their parents. Someone may also exhibit passive aggressive behavior out of a fear of intimacy, dependency, or competition.


Some of the most common relationships where passive aggressive behavior can rear its ugly head is in a romantic relationship. This can be very disheartening to the partner who is not passive aggressive because they may not realize exactly what it is that their partner is doing. The non-passive aggressive partner may just realize that they suddenly feel inadequate and as though no matter what they do it is always the wrong thing at the wrong time. They may also feel isolated if the passive aggressive partner uses the cold shoulder technique on a regular basis. 


If you think that you may be involved in a passive aggressive relationship ask yourself these questions:


Does your partner become angry with you about things over which you have no control? Does your partner punish you or blame you for things that happen to them that have nothing to do with you? For example, does your partner become angry at you because their boss made them stay late or someone cut them off in traffic on their way home?


Is your partner frequently angry or depressed over small insignificant problems? Do they focus on these smaller problems and ignore the bigger problems in their life?


Does your partner tell you often that you don't appreciate them, or does your partner fail to appreciate you even though you strive to do everything you can to make them happy?


Does your partner act as though they are cursed or that the reason that their life is not better because of things that other people have done to them instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions?


Does your partner describe a world of their own making instead of what is actually reality? Will they stick to the world of their own creation in spite of evidence to the contrary about how things really are or how they really happened?



Even if you have just discovered that you are in a relationship with a passive aggressive partner do not despair. Your relationship does not have to be doomed, and you and your partner do not have to be chronically unhappy. People DO change and sometimes passive aggressive people are not even aware that they are. They have dealt with their emotions in the same manner for so long that it is just habit for them now. In many cases, they aren't even using these passive aggressive traits to hurt, anger, or confuse you it is just the only way they know to be.


If you are in a passive aggressive relationship just realizing it can make a difference. Realizing that all of the blame and negativity that is being laid at your feet is not about YOU can take a huge weight off. If your passive aggressive partner is willing you can still build a wonderful relationship. For example, when your passive aggressive partner blames you for something out of your control calmly tell them that you realize why they are upset, but that you had no more control over the situation than they did. Then ask them calmly if there is something that you can do to make their day better. This is just one example of how you can make a passive aggressive partner aware of what they are doing and they can start trying to make a change. Just remember that making these changes can take quite a long time, but the payoff may be greater than you can ever imagine it.


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Comments
KenWu on September 2, 2011 said:
Passive aggressive behaviors must be dealt with because sooner or later it will lead to a much more serious problem.
Sam on September 2, 2011 said:
It can be dangerous if not recognized and limited early on. Thanks for sharing a great article!!
behavior info on September 2, 2011 said:
This condition is a known personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes.
Living with the passive-aggressive man on September 2, 2011 said:
There are a number of good books available on this subject see the above link but I can recommend: Living with the passive-aggressive man Simon & Schuster, 1993
Claire Smith on September 9, 2011 said:
Passive agression is often hard to identify because it is less obvious than physical abuse. Passive aggression is more subtle and it is disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. This article is therefore very helpful in identifying this passive aggression, which means that something can therefore be done about it.

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