I grew up seeing passive aggressiveness as a way to avoid conflict, yet it did the opposite. Often the denial of being angry caused someone else to blow up in frustration. Interestingly, that person looked like the bad guy, while the passive aggressive person looked like the victim. For me, holding in my expression of anger caused illness in my early twenties. This helped me begin a healing journey of empowerment and assertiveness.
Everyone feels anger, as it is a part of the human condition. Anger can be from a person’s hurt, insecurity, fear, jealousy, guilt or annoyance towards you. Passive aggressiveness can be difficult to identify when you don’t see it for what it is, repressed anger. This type of person avoids conflict like the plague. When they feel a hint of anger, this type of person will deny it to the hills. They will not take ownership or responsibility for these feelings.
The 90/10 Rule
I am connected to a lot of positive people, who I love. 90% of them are authentic, meaning they walk their talk. There are the 10% who do not. For those who are passive aggressive; bless them, let them go, and let them be. The lesson is watch what people do, not what they say. Bill Eddy LCSW wrote about this 90/10 rule, when describing high conflict behaviors, which includes passive aggressiveness. (I have included his book link at the end of this post if you would like to learn more.)
The Behavioral Patterns to Watch For
If you are on the receiving end of any of these behavioral patterns, it feels infuriating. Getting stuck in this cycle of conflict causes many people to give up because they feel drained, confused, angry and guilty. Sound familiar? Compassionate people often absorb other people’s emotions. The best way to deal with this type of energy is to disengage temporarily and re-center yourself.
The first step to healing is to gain clarity on this behavior. Remember, how another person acts is not personal. Their reactions stem from covert anger and a lack of healthy communication skills. End these five behaviors listed below with a side order of a smile. The reason for this is you will often see a person denying their anger while smiling. It is good to have a little humor when dealing with difficult people, plus this will help you remember the communication dynamic at work.
1.) Vagueness– They keep you on the hook. Since this type of personality lacks boundaries and assertiveness they will not give you a clear answer. You may hear these words; maybe and I don’t know. 🙂
2.) Silent treatments- If this type of a person does not get their way; they will sulk and withdraw. When you ask what is wrong, they will reply “nothing” or give you silence. 🙂
3.) Not showing up or showing up consistently late– They keep you waiting one way or another. 🙂
4.) Carrying out a task inefficiently or they procrastinate- When you ask a request of them, they tell you they will do it, yet never follow through. If they do the task, it is half of what you asked. When you confront them, they looked puzzled as to why you are so upset. 🙂
5.) Giving little digs- In the middle of a perfectly normal conversation, this person will slide in something hurtful in a vague, seemingly benign way. Their anger often comes out as sarcasm. 🙂
For more ways to cope with passive aggressive behavior; read this blog : How to Successfully Deal with Passive Aggressive Behavior
You can learn more about high conflict personalities and behaviors in this book: 5 Types of People who can Ruin Your Life by Bill Eddy, LCSW
Lisa Hutchison LMHC is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Lisa is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine.
Pick up her FREE gift 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now! at http://www.lisahutchison.net