How to Deal with Passive Aggressive People: 15 Steps

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How to Deal with Passive Aggressive People: 15 Steps
How to Deal with Passive Aggressive People: 15 Steps

Passive aggressive behavior is an expression of one's anger so that others feel annoyed or hurt, but not overtly. The problem is, this person will easily deny his behavior by saying that he doesn't feel guilty. In general, people behave passively because they don't know how to deal with conflict well. However, there are several ways to deal with people who behave passively aggressively, namely by reflecting and inviting them to communicate.


Part 1 of 3: Recognizing Passive Aggressive Behavior

Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 1
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 1

Step 1. Recognize signs of passive aggressive behavior

People who behave passively aggressively tend to have hidden vices so that they are easy to deny with reasonable reasons. When confronted, he may say he doesn't understand what you're talking about or accuse you of making things up. Maintain your perception and learn how to recognize passive aggressive behavior.

  • Passive aggressive behavior can be recognized through several things, for example: sarcastic speech and response, excessive criticism, temporarily complying with other people's requests (approving verbal requests, but delaying their implementation), inefficient work on purpose (approving requests, but fulfilling them in a timely manner). disappointing way), letting the problem get bigger by doing nothing and feeling good about being able to get other people in trouble, overly criticizing others, being sneaky and vengeful, complaining about feeling unfairly treated, and not wanting to talk. Passive aggressive people often say, "I'm not mad" or "I was just kidding."
  • Other signs that show passive aggressive behavior include being reluctant to give time to others, being hostile to authority figures or people who are more fortunate, buying time to fulfill other people's requests, intentionally doing things that upset others, being cynical., moody, argumentative, and often complains on the grounds of feeling underappreciated.
  • Passive aggressive behavior means refusing other people's requests and avoiding direct confrontation so that things get worse.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 2
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 2

Step 2. Make sure you're not making it up

This person may be intent on hurting you, but they may also be overly prejudiced and irritable. Do some reflection to find out if you have any insecurities because in the past you have faced difficulties because of the treatment of certain people? Does the passive aggressive person you're dealing with right now remind you of that situation? Do you think he is treating you the same way?

  • Try to understand the other person's point of view. After that, ask yourself: would people who are able to think rationally behave in such a negative way when faced with the same situation?
  • Remember that there are people who are often late or delayed in completing tasks because they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Don't be too quick to conclude that the negative behavior is being directed at you.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 3
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 3

Step 3. Observe how you feel when you face this person

Dealing with passive aggressive people can lead to frustration, anger, and even despair because no matter what you say or do, it never seems to please them.

  • Maybe you feel hurt because someone is passive aggressive, for example because they don't want to talk to you.
  • Maybe you feel frustrated that he complains a lot, but never tries to improve his situation. Pay close attention to what your heart says.
  • You will feel tired or powerless if you are with him because you are drained of energy to deal with passive aggressive behavior.

Part 2 of 3: Responding to People Who Behave Passively Aggressive

Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 4
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 4

Step 1. Show a positive attitude at all times

The power of positive thinking enables you to deal with everyday problems. Passive aggressive people will try to pull you into negative situations because they want to provoke you into a negative response. That way, they can turn around saying that you're the one causing the problem, not them. Don't let this happen.

  • Keeping a positive attitude means not putting yourself down like them. Don't be passive aggressive. Don't insult, yell, or throw a tantrum. If you stay positive, it will be easier for you to focus on their actions, not yours. If you are angry, your attention will be diverted from the real problem.
  • Show positive behavior. When dealing with young children or adults, point out how you handle conflict so they know how to interact with you. Passive aggression is a way of expressing emotions under the guise of not caring. Instead of acting like this, express your emotions honestly and candidly. When you're talking to a passive aggressive person and they're not responding, direct the conversation by talking about useful things.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 5
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 5

Step 2. Try to calm yourself down

If you start to get irritated while trying to solve a problem, calm yourself down for a while (walking, listening to music while dancing, doing a crossword puzzle). After that, decide what you want out of this situation, such as what a logical decision you can accept.

  • Don't overreact to anything, especially to anger. Don't immediately accuse someone of being passive aggressive because he or she will find excuses to deny everything and turn around accusing you of being presumptuous or overly sensitive/suspicious.
  • Whatever happens, control yourself. Don't let him assume you're giving him a chance as this will support his behavior and it will likely happen again.
  • Control the urge to show anger impulsively or react emotionally. This will make you appear more in control of yourself and will show that you can't be taken for granted.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 6
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 6

Step 3. Start talking about the problem

Assuming you're able to maintain emotional stability, respect yourself, and can stay calm, the best approach is to talk about what's going on. For example, “I could be wrong, but you seem disappointed that David wasn't invited to the party. Do you want to talk about it?”)

  • Be direct and specific. Passive aggressive people can distort your speech in various ways if you speak too general or ambiguously. If you want to talk to him directly, make sure you understand the real problem first.
  • Confrontation can be very risky if you make statements that are too general, for example, "You've always been like this!" This method is useless. Describe the action specifically. For example, if you're upset that he doesn't want to talk to you, explain that his unpleasant behavior has made you experience certain things that make you uncomfortable.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 7
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 7

Step 4. Get him to admit that he is angry

Do this without trying to be confrontational, but say calmly, "You seem upset" or "Is something bothering you?"

  • Describe his behavior and how you feel. For example, “I feel hurt and unappreciated when you only give short answers.” As such, he must acknowledge the consequences his behavior has had on you. Focus on how you feel and don't say blaming words that make him feel like he's being punished.
  • Use the words "I" or "I". When communicating with someone, especially if there is a conflict, use the words "I" or "I" and as much as possible, avoid sentences with the word "you". For example, instead of saying, "You're mean," you might say, "I was so sad after you slammed the door because you didn't seem to want to listen to me." The first sentence is a statement with the word you that tends to blame, judge, or accuse. On the other hand, statements with the word I or I are a way of expressing feelings without blaming the other person.
  • Someone who behaves passively aggressively is usually trying to cover up his feelings. Don't do the same to him. Be honest, but be nice. Tell the truth, but be friendly. However, don't pretend to be nice.

Part 3 of 3: Protecting Yourself from Passive Aggressive Behavior

Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 8
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 8

Step 1. Set boundaries with passive aggressive people

While you don't want to have an angry confrontation, don't let yourself become a victim. Passive aggressive behavior can be very detrimental and is a form of violence. You have the right to set limits.

  • One of the biggest mistakes people make is being too tolerant. Once you give up, you have no choice because this issue is actually about strength. You can stay positive and calm while trying to stay strong and be firm in your stance.
  • Enforce the limits you have set. Make it clear that you refuse to be mistreated. If he's still late for no apparent reason and you're annoyed, tell him the next time he's late, you'll still be going out alone. This is a way of saying that you don't want to be a victim because he's acting as he pleases.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 9
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 9

Step 2. Find and resolve the cause of the problem

The best way to deal with the anger of a passive aggressive person is to try to identify any changes as quickly as possible, that is, by figuring out what is making them angry.

  • If he doesn't show anger easily, ask someone who knows him well what makes him angry and what signs indicate that he is angry.
  • Find out more and find the answer by being honest with yourself what triggers passive aggressive behavior because this is usually a symptom of other causes.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 10
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 10

Step 3. Get in the habit of communicating assertively

In addition to aggressive communication, there is also passive communication and passive aggressive communication. It's not an assertive way of communicating.

  • Assertive communication is a way of communicating by being assertive, not reactive, and respecting each other. Show confidence, cooperate, and express that you want to work things out in a way that's good for both of you.
  • Try to listen with all your heart and don't judge or blame during the conversation. Consider his point of view and try to understand it. Try to understand how he feels, even if you think he has done something wrong.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 11
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 11

Step 4. Decide when you should stay away from it

If this person is always behaving passively aggressively towards you, it makes sense that you want to stay away from them because your well-being should be your priority.

  • Spend less time meeting him and interacting in a group, not just the two of you.
  • If he doesn't provide anything useful other than negative energy, consider whether you still need to continue your relationship with him.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 12
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 12

Step 5. Don't give him any information he could use to attack you

Don't share things that relate to your personal affairs, emotions, or thoughts.

  • If he or she asks about your life like an innocent person or as if everything is fine, answer as necessary while remaining polite and friendly, but don't go into detail.
  • Avoid topics that are sensitive or reveal your weaknesses. Passive aggressive people will remember that information or trivial little things and use it to attack you in the future.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 13
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 13

Step 6. Enlist the help of a mediator or other person who can mediate

This person will be an objective third party, such as a representative from personnel, a (objective) family member, or a mutual friend. Choose a person who can be relied on by both parties.

  • Before meeting with the mediator, first explain what problems you are facing because of the passive aggressive person. Show that you are trying to understand his point of view and why he is angry. Don't be mean and only talk about passive aggressive behavior that makes you feel rejected, even if you wanted to help.
  • When you meet him in person, be prepared to hear him say, “Relax, I was just joking” or “You are so serious.” Having a third party that can intervene will be very helpful in dealing with negative behavior like this.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 14
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 14

Step 7. Emphasize the consequences if he persists in his passive aggressive behavior

Because passive aggressive people are not used to being candid, they will try to defend themselves when other people reveal their behavior. Denying, making excuses, and accusing are some of the possible ways he can deny.

  • Whatever he says, make it clear that you want to make things better. In addition, emphasize one or more severe consequences for him to reconsider his behavior.
  • The ability to identify and give decisive consequences is the best skill to give a deterrent effect to passive aggressive people. If well explained, consequences can stop the problematic behavior and force it to change from being obstructive to being cooperative.
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 15
Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior Step 15

Step 8. Reward right/good behavior

In behavioral psychology, the term "reinforcement" means doing or giving something to someone who has been able to show a certain desired behavior. The goal is to increase a person's ability to maintain his new behavior.

  • This can be done by rewarding desirable good behavior or punishing bad behavior that must be eliminated. Positive reinforcement is not an easy thing to apply because bad behavior occurs more often than good behavior. Pay close attention if he is behaving well so you can take this opportunity to provide positive reinforcement.
  • For example, if a passive aggressive person wants to open up and honestly say how they feel, "I feel hurt because you were rude to me!" this is a good thing. Give positive reinforcement for the behavior by saying, “Thank you for sharing your feelings. I really appreciate it.”
  • This way he can focus more attention on his good behavior, which is expressing his feelings. From now on, you can start a dialogue with him.


  • The conflict will only escalate if you grumble, yell, or get angry, giving your partner more reason and power to avoid responsibility.
  • If you are influenced by your partner's tactics or take over his responsibilities, you are condoning and supporting passive aggressive behavior.
  • People who behave passively aggressively tend to take pride in their ability to control their emotions.

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