Most people don’t know what Passive Aggressive means…


Recently I told someone that I no longer felt the need to participate in an activity because I felt triggered, and not in a good way. Expediting my own recovery by posting some positive reinforcement for myself, I was told later that she thought this was passive aggressive of me.


I’ve been called a lot of things, but passive aggressive is not one of them. LOL!! It occurred to me that this person probably had no idea what the term means, but because it sounded correct, she decided it must be an accurate description of my actions.

It wasn’t.  

In fact,when I sent the link to her that defines this mal-used term, I’ll just bet she found that her own behavior and actions, hit almost every single defined trait of what a true passive aggressive person is.


Some examples of passive aggression might be:

Non-Communication when there is clearly something problematic to discuss

Avoiding/Ignoring when you are so angry that you feel you cannot speak calmly

Evading problems and issues, burying an angry head in the sand

Procrastinating intentionally putting off important tasks for less important ones

Obstructing deliberately stalling or preventing an event or process of change

Fear of Competition Avoiding situations where one party will be seen as better at something

Ambiguity Being cryptic, unclear, not fully engaging in conversations

Sulking Being silent, morose, sullen and resentful in order to get attention or sympathy.

Chronic Lateness A way to put you in control over others and their expectations

Chronic Forgetting Shows a blatant disrespect and disregard for others to punish in some way

Fear of Intimacy Often there can be trust issues with passive aggressive people and guarding against becoming too intimately involved or attached will be a way for them to feel in control of the relationship

Making Excuses Always coming up with reasons for not doing things

Victimisation Unable to look at their own part in a situation will turn the tables to become the victim and will behave like one

Self-Pity the poor me scenario

Blaming others for situations rather than being able to take responsibility for your own actions or being able to take an objective view of the situation as a whole.

Withholding usual behaviours or roles for example sex, cooking and cleaning or making cups of tea, running a bath etc. all to reinforce an already unclear message to the other party

Learned Helplessness where a person continually acts like they can’t help themselves – deliberately doing a poor job of something for which they are often explicitly responsible

~from Counselling Directory of the UK

passive agressive hunger games

The Counselling Directory also offers tips on how you can overcome, or at least control, your own passive aggressive tendencies.

Five tips for overcoming your own passive-aggressive behaviours:  

  • Become aware of the underlying feelings causing your behaviour
  • Become aware of the impacts of your behaviour and how your desire to defeat others, get back at them or annoy them creates yet further uncomfortable feelings for yourself
  • Take responsibility for your actions and reactions
  • Try to not feel attacked when faced with a problem but instead take an overall objective view of the situation
  • Learn to be assertive in expressing yourself. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings so communicate them with honesty and truth and strengthen your relationships

They also offer tips on how to deal with someone you suspect is passive aggressive.

Five tips for coping with the passive-aggressive behaviour of others:

  • Become aware of how passive aggression operates and try to be understanding towards your partner
  • Explain to your partner how their behaviour towards you is affecting you. Communicate calmly without blaming – i.e. talk about how you feel and what you think without using language that will inflame the situation more. For example you might say “I feel upset by your behaviour” rather than “you’ve done this or that”.
  • Be aware of your responses to others and yourself– do not blame yourself for the behaviour and reaction of others
  • Be honest about your part in the situation
  • If the aggressive behaviour of others continues to affect you in a negative way, set clear boundaries around yourself – rules for what you will and won’t accept. Stay strong and focused and get on with your life in a positive way.

The next time you think passive aggressive is a great description for someone just because they either pissed you off, or refuse to allow you to control them, think about what that term really means before you just throw it out there. You might be surprised about who the passive aggressive person really is because it might just be YOU.


About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Personal Boundaries Primer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Most people don’t know what Passive Aggressive means…

  1. adelineoh says:

    Great article. Thanks.


  2. Pingback: The Passive Aggressor: Artist or Asshole? | I AM TOM NARDONE

  3. Pingback: Passive Aggressive Behavior, The Truth Will Set You Free | Winston Scrooge

  4. Pingback: How to Communicate your Anger | Anna Deeds, LPC

  5. Pingback: I SEE mean people | Madeline Scribes

I think it's so nice to see your thoughts! Please share!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s