There was a time when the phrase passive-aggressive was rarely uttered among non-psychologists. But it’s a phrase that is mentioned often these days.
The problem is, passive-aggressive behavior is almost so common, that it’s hard for people to pinpoint what that behavior looks like exactly.
Do you know any passive-aggressive people? Chances are you do. But do you know the real behaviors to spot? If not, keep reading to find out.
They Won’t Say No
Passive-aggressive people love playing the part of the victim and martyr. Therefore they’ll never just come out and say “no” to something. Instead, they’ll go along with others’ plans and needs, and then sigh, shake their head and roll their eyes because they didn’t get their own way. Do you know anyone like this?
They are Chronic Complainers
Every other sentence out of their mouth seems to be some form of complaint. They are usually low-grade complaints as again, they try to consistently mask their real feelings. It’s always a guessing game with these people.
“That dress looks so much better on you than the last one that made your hips look big.” Suppressed resentment is their currency and it tends to come out with backhanded compliments.
They Sabotage Other’s Efforts
Do you have a coworker who resents that they weren’t assigned to head your project? Do they show up to work late? Work at a snail’s pace? Take long breaks? When passive-aggressive people don’t get their way, they will throw their brand of a tantrum so everyone suffers.
They Love Getting a Reaction Out of Others
If pushing buttons were an Olympic event, the passive-aggressive person would bring home the gold, silver AND bronze medals. Once they know what annoys you, they can’t help but push, push, push.
They “Accidentally” Withhold Information
Have you ever had a roommate, colleague or romantic partner take a call that you had been waiting for and then “accidentally” forgot to give you the message? Whoopsie! This is to teach you a lesson: don’t ever ask me to do anything for you again.
They Appear to be Brilliantly Absent-Minded
Have you ever known someone who seemed brilliant in so many instances, and yet, in a second, they become the Absent-Minded Professor? They suddenly forgot where they placed the very important documents you need for the board meeting? Or where they put your purse (why did they even touch or move your purse??!!). Again, these are instances of someone who has deep-seated anger and resentment, but who can’t just come forth and confront you in a mature and direct manner.
Dealing with passive-aggressive people is never fun. But if you know what signs to look for, you can steer clear as much as possible!
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW