Keys to Managing Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-aggressive behavior is one of the most troublesome.

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Passive-aggressive behavior is one of the most troublesome. Whether we are the ones who present it or if it is someone from our environment, this way of acting prevents or supposes a significant obstacle to take care of the relationship with the target people of that behavior.

Therefore, learning to manage passive-aggressive behavior is fundamental. In this article you will learn, on the one hand, to recognize this way of acting. On the other hand, you will discover several keys that will help you to face it. So, when you find someone who behaves like this, you can understand what is happening and act accordingly.

What is passive-aggressive behavior?

We all know how to recognize an aggressive person. In general, it is the one that frequently uses the attack as an instrument or means. Aggression can be physical, but also verbal; It can be direct, but also camouflaged. On the other hand, the background of aggressiveness can be several reasons, such as anger, stress or anxiety.

Understood this, we can say that a passive-aggressive person would not be able to face something that he does not like directly. However, he would not be able to contain all his discomfort either. Therefore, someone like this usually combines moments of self-control with moments of lack of control, often misleading people around them. If it is an anger, the person can manifest it through discontinuous and aggressive behaviors that show their discomfort.

The problem is that this way of acting is very ineffective in solving problems. Therefore, learning to manage passive-aggressive behavior is essential when avoiding unnecessary conflicts.

For example, a person with this coping style would never say that she is upset. Instead, he would use indirect behaviors to show his anger, such as stopping talking to the one who has offended him or making sarcastic comments without coming to mind. Of course, this would not help at all if the person’s intention was to resolve the conflict. However, this is generally not what is sought, but simply to show displeasure in a situation.

How to handle passive-aggressive behavior

Below you will find two keys to face this type of behavior the next time you find it. When you master them, you will discover that passive-aggressive people stop having power over you.

1- Ignore their attempts to get your attention

The most effective way to handle passive-aggressive behavior is to ignore its manifestations-failing that, not reinforcing them (or reinforcing alternatives). The person who acts thus seeks, fundamentally, attention. That is why, if you see that it does not affect how you behave and that you are not going to pay attention to it in any way, it is possible that you start talking to you more directly.

In psychology, we would say that what we are looking for is the extinction of behavior. Returning to the previous idea, the passive-aggressive, by making sarcastic comments or “make someone empty”, can get a reinforcement for their behavior. As we say, this reinforcement from the outside may not seem so; nobody would think that a row or an argument could be; however, it is if the other person does not have another way of attracting attention in their behavioral repertoire. That is why in these cases it is so important to carry out a pedagogical task.

2- Use assertiveness

Assertiveness has become very fashionable lately; but the truth is that it is very useful to solve many problems and unpleasant situations. In the case of handling passive-aggressive behavior, you can become one of your greatest allies.

So, the next time you find yourself facing a person who acts in this way, ask him directly what is happening to him. The key to this approach is that you must maintain

the calm in the discussion that will surely occur next. When a passive-aggressive person is questioned in this way, he will tend to “go on the attack” and manifest what bothers him.

Thus, with the cards on the table it will be easier to resolve a conflict that would otherwise have remained latent. Like that Chinese in the shoe, I would have continued to cause discomfort without you being able to understand why the other behaved like that. In this way, provoking your speech, you acquire valuable information to solve the conflict, in addition to completing the pedagogical work of which we spoke before. The other will know, through you, that there is another way to manage anger, sadness or stress.