What Is Passive-Aggressive Behavior? - 10 Examples Of It

Last updated by Katie M.

We all have sarcastic and manipulative tendencies that emerge when we feel stressed or even under pressure. Although, we can't particularly be proud of this kind of behavior, we all exhibit it. These negative behaviors are usually noticeable very quickly, that is, except in passive-aggressive people who bury their emotions. These particular individuals act in the shadows but are still very harmful and toxic, especially if you are friends with or even dating one. Discover our top 10 tips to spot this passive-aggressive behavior and what you can do when you are confronted with it.

Contents: 

Passive-aggressive behavior is best described as a mixture of cowardice, provocation and resistance. Indeed, it's so damaging that it is even considered a real personality disorder. It is not uncommon to come across people who suffer from this disorder in your surroundings, although that doesn't mean that these people aren’t always easy to identify. To help you build a healthier environment, here are 10 tips to help you identify this trait in people. A passive-aggressive person adopts a passive attitude that indirectly expresses a hatred that is not fully assumed or experienced.

passive aggressive

Resentment, childhood wounds, frustration, social discomfort... there are so many reasons that push these individuals to act both aggressively and subtly. Now that we know what we're looking for, open your eyes wide!

Do you suspect someone of being passive-aggressive? - 10 Confirmation signs 

1. They’re the champion of half-done work

With this type of person, work is only ever half done. Coffee's hot, but it's not being served. The laundry is washed, but not folded. That's the subtlety of it. By leaving a task unfinished, the passive-aggressive forces you to take over. These people may even criticize your methods and make you feel guilty... And no one can blame him because he did the work anyway.

2. They are eternally dissatisfied

Nothing is ever good enough for them because they are incapable of knowing what they want, yet they love blaming other people. Whenever someone suggests something, they’ll automatically shout it down, simply because they don't know what they want. Passive-aggressive people are immature and don’t know how to make themselves happy.

>>> Check out how to recognize you're in a toxic relationship

3. Their compliments are false

Normally, receiving a compliment pleases us and flatters our ego. But there's a difference between "Nice new glasses! and "Your glasses look great, they look just like mine." For passive-aggressive people, paying a sincere compliment is like risking a tongue abrasion. Their competitive spirit pushes them to belittle others in order to put themselves forward, but in a masked way.

4. Their insults are hurtful but disguised

If vulgar people are the most honest, then passive-aggressive people are the worst kinds of scoundrel. There’s no constructive criticism where these people are concerned. They’re just trying to spit out their venom without assuming it. When they give their opinion, their interventions will always begin with "Not to be mean, but..." or "I don't mean to sound insensitive, but...". Afterwards, they will finish you off with the critical or insulting part.

5. Silence is their favorite strategy

Even the calmest of people would be hard pushed not to react when faced with a passive-aggressive person. In those moments when they say NOTHING, the silence can be translated into something like: 'I openly try to avoid conflict, but I provoke you, and I wait for you to break first'.

6. They blame everyone else other than themselves

'If you could be more demonstrative... But I suppose it's too much to ask...'

If someone makes this kind of guilt-ridden request to you, you are no doubt faced with a passive-aggressive person. Their goal, of course, is to get an idea across and then immediately reject it - thus offloading the responsibility onto you.

7. They always seek revenge

Unfortunately for us, this type of individual has an excellent memory and shows a lot of imagination. If you think that movie villains are their main source of inspiration, a passive-aggressive persona will never let anything go by. He wouldn't go so far as to tamper with the brakes of your car if you've upset him, but he'll be sure to get his revenge!

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8. They never keep their promises

The unexpected can be tolerated, but these people aren’t above letting you down regularly. Beware if a passive-aggressive person offers to help you, because you’ll definitely be let down with a terrible excuse.

9. They always play the victim

The good thing about being passive-aggressive is that you're always right and there's no time to second-guess yourself. Therefore, when something unpleasant happens, the passive-aggressive individual manages to turn the situation around to blame you. They can even go so far as to shed a little tear!

10. "No" is not in their vocabulary.

Although the word is simple to pronounce, it never leaves of the mouth of this alleged victim. Even if they don’t like what you're proposing, they’ll accept, yet as soon as your back is turned, they will invent a ploy to escape!

What triggers passive-aggressive behavior?

Passive aggression often originates from deep-rooted sadness, frustration, anger, or insecurity, although what’s even more troubling is that the person in question may not even be aware of these triggers. These emotional scars are evidently traumatizing and consequently cause sufferers to act out in manipulative ways in an attempt to gain control. Bullying, poor treatment, and a lack of affection can also provoke passive-aggressive behavior in adults, who therefore believe they have something to prove to the world, and a score to settle. After all, the wounds we carry with us really do have what it takes to destroy us, especially if they go untreated and unaddressed by appropriate courses of therapy.

Editor's advice: Don’t fall into the trap

If you are dealing with a passive-aggressive person at work, the best solution is to walk away from the temptation of confrontation. Don't get caught up in the triangulation. Don't try to save them, don't attack them when they grumble, don't behave like a victim because they are never happy. It would be useless, and you would run the risk of entering an infernal circle. 

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!

#BornToBeMe

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