Passive Aggression
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I want to take a moment to post an article on Passive Aggression. I found that there really weren't enough articles on the web about Passive-Aggression, so I have re-typed this one from Prevention magazine. Part of what went wrong in my marriage was that my partner was passive-aggressive. It aggravated my condition and emotional instability even worse.   Anyone with self-esteem problems or personality problems should learn to be well aware of dealing with passive aggressive people, because they will make you crazy. Personal example: there is nothing worse than being blamed for not receiving a birthday gift from your husband!  I hope to find more resources on how to deal with p-a. Meanwhile, here is the article I did find.

article on passive-aggression

Oh, That Hurts!

Don’t get hurt by false friends or lovers.  here’s how to tell the good from the bad

By Ed Pavelka   Published in Prevention Magazine, June 1998 Issue

Most of the time he’s Mr. Nice Guy: kind, cooperative, supportive. But sometimes, when you really need him, he’s not there. Like the day he forgot he promised to help you wallpaper the kitchen. When you reminded him, he got angry. Then you felt guilty.

She’s your best friend. When you were dieting, she was your biggest cheerleader. But when she gave you a birthday present of Godiva chocolates, you felt confused. You smiled and thanked her, but you were left thinking that her gift was anything but generous.

If these scenarios remind you of someone, you’ve been the victim of the sugarcoated hostility of a passive-aggressive.

It could be a family member, a friend, a partner, or a co-worker. Someone who says they like or even love you – but whose actions send you subliminal messages of anger and hostility so confusing that you wonder what you did wrong.

“Passive-aggressive people are like snowballs with rocks inside,” says Tamara Hall, an educational consultant who gives presentations about this complex disorder to schools and businesses. “They come at you soft, but they’re not. They can do a lot of harm.”

They can wreck your relationship, your reputation, and sometimes even your self-esteem. Your best protection: Learn to see them coming and react in ways that will soften the blow and disarm them.

Understand What Makes Them Tick

Passive-aggressives are literally aggressive in a passive way. They aren’t hostile one moment and then kind the next. Instead, they perform the maddening trick of being both at the same time.

According to Linda Sapadin, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Valley Stream, NY, “This person who has a strong need to be a nice guy, not to be defiant and rebellious, yet he is defiant and rebellious.”

He’s never learned the right way “to express anger and hostility,” adds Scott Wetzler, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY, and author of Living With the Passive-Aggressive Man (Fireside, 1993).

 Essentially, passive-aggression is kid stuff. When you tell kids to go clean up their room, they grudgingly say okay, then the “forget” or find other flimsy excuses. Most of us outgrow this behavior. But for some people, this techniques works so well that they carry it into adulthood. “It’s an avoidance pattern, and that’s the essence of the passive-aggressive person,” explains Dr. Sapadin.


Who’s in Control Here?

What the passive-aggressive person is often avoiding is conflict, expressing thoughts and feelings that are negative or socially unacceptable.  “Forgetting,” couching his anger in kind words or jokes, agreeing with you and then telling others you’re wrong, being habitually late – these are just a few of the ways a passive-aggressive person manages to express his hostility while still maintaining his “good guy” image.

 Using passive-aggression is a way to control situations and people without seeming to be in control. “Passive-aggressive behavior is a tremendous way to manipulate people,” says Hall.

 The passive-aggressive person usually lacks the self-confidence to ask for, do, or say what he really wants. He’s so uncomfortable with self-assertion that he tries to get his way by doing nothing. After, of course, telling you whatever you want to hear. By allowing others to take charge, he leaves himself only one option for getting what he wants: sabotage.


Know How They Hurt You

Dr. Wetzler calls passive-aggression “crazy-making behavior.” And who it makes the craziest is you – the perplexed person on the receiving end. Here’s how it works on you:

 It makes you the bad guy. Passive-aggressive hostility is so subtle, the skilled practitioner is often in a good position to deny it’s even there – blaming you for the inevitable confrontation that results. You blow up; he remains calm. Suddenly you seem like the aggressor. Maybe even to yourself. The incredible final straw, Dr. Wetzler says, is when you apologize to him. Because your inner voice is telling you that he’s not being open with you, you experience conflict and stress.

 It pushes your buttons. The passive-aggressive person has an almost uncanny ability to know your vulnerable spots. He’s an ace at shifting the blame from himself to you, knowing you’re likely to take it on. If you point out what he’s done wrong, he won’t own up to it. “If he agrees with anything, it will be how you’re to blame, how you never appreciate him, how hard he works, what sacrifices he makes. It’s always about you, not him,” Dr. Wetzler says.

 It wrecks your relationship. As you can imagine, passive-aggression will eventually cripple any relationship, and especially an intimate one. In fact, says Dr. Sapadin, passive-aggresssive behavior is on of the leading causes of marital conflict. Since problems never really come out into the open, they never get resolved. True intimacy may not even be possible since passive-aggressives often deny their feelings.


React the Right Way

Spotting the warning signals of passive-aggression is a real challenge, but it can be done. What do you look for? The quiz on p 125 highlights some examples of passive-aggressive behavior. Once you’re able to recognize it, you can respond in ways that will not only protect you, but help the other person as well.

 Nix the guilt. Don’t think you’re to blame for the passive-aggressive’s behavior; a passive-aggressive person acts the same way with everyone. “As you ride the emotional roller coaster, it’s important to remember that it’s his problem, “ says Dr. Wetzler.

 Don’t get sucked into the game. Remember: A passive-aggressive doesn’t know how to respond appropriately to his anger – or to yours. When he does something covertly hostile, don’t act accusatory or dredge up old hurts. That kind of conflict will trigger the passive-aggressive cycle you’re trying to break: He’ll deny everything and claim you’ve misunderstood him.  It’s okay to express your anger – in fact, it’s important. But stick to the matter at hand and tell him how his actions make you feel.

 Confront Him with his dishonesty. No one enjoys a conflict, but to silently accept a person’s passive-aggression will only reinforce his behavior while raising your stress level. “You need to confront him immediately and tell him you’re very confused by his behavior,” says Hall.  “Tell him that he’s being dishonest and trying to control you, and if his relationship with you is important to him, he has to stop behaving this way.”

 Don’t let him off the hook. If you let a passive-aggressive get away with it, he won’t change. And that won’t help either of you. Instead, try to create an atmosphere in which he’ll feel comfortable sharing his negative feelings with you. Tell him, “I know you’re angry. Please tell me about it.” Over time, he’ll become more aware of his feelings and better able to express himself.

-end of article-



Because passive-aggression is so insidious, it can be hard to identify. If you think someone you know may be passive-aggressive, take this quiz. (And don't hesitate to apply it to yourself.) How frequently does the person in question

...make excuses to avoid routine social or work obligations? Énever
É often to keep promises, resulting in problems for you or others? Énever
É often
...complain of being misunderstood or unappreciated? Énever
É often
...complain about and exaggerate his own misfortune? Énever
É often
...have a pessimistic outlook even when things are going well? Énever
É often
...make attempts at humor that are laced with hurtful gives and sarcasm toward you? Énever
É often
...blame his failures on the behavior of other people? Énever
É often
...agree with you, then go off and side with others against you? Énever
É often
...perform a task so slowly and inefficiently that it's tempting to stop asking him to do it? Énever
É often

R E S U L T S:  Give 0 points for each never, 1 for sometimes, 2 for often


get this gear!

Last edited: 03/30/2006 11:36 AM