Dealing with a passive aggressive person can be confusing when things are not said clearly. Here are 7 classic behaviors deciphered and the most appropriate reaction according to our psychologist Johanna Rozenblum.
Being “passive-aggressive” can affect us all. This happens when, instead of openly addressing what bothers us, we say something else, while indirectly expressing negative feelings. However, if this behavior is generally punctual (when we are not in the mood, or when we do not dare to express our disagreement), in some people it can become pathological and become a permanent mode of communication.
His specialty: saying yes, while still showing his disagreement
Passive-aggressiveness then results in confusing behavior that can say yes while meaning no. And which aims to create a reaction in the other.
“It is for example punishing someone by remaining silent, telling someone that we will do things later when the person is in an emergency situation, making people believe that the other person expressed themselves incorrectly , or be aggressive while saying the opposite (‘no, it’s you who gets angry, I don’t know why’)” tells us Johanna Rozenblum, clinical psychologist and member of our expert committee.
A necessarily unequal and harmful exchange between two people. Another clinical psychologist, Dr. Cortney Warren, who works at Harvard Medical School, has listed the 7 most classic behaviors to recognize in a passive aggressive person.
He says “Everything is fine” when it’s clearly not the case
This is a favorite expression of passive aggressive personalities. By this “everything is fine”, the person is saying one thing, while the tone of their voice and their behavior indicate that they are upset. The same operation can occur with “That does not bother me”or “No, I’m not angry.” while no one is fooled.
He keeps silent
Another common sign is silence. The person after saying “Everything is fine”-” will simply decide not to speak to you anymore, or to no longer answer the phone. A way for her to not manage her own emotions.
“The passive-aggressive person will also not answer your phone calls or will only give you concise, closed-off or even one-word responses.”explains Dr. Warren.
He uses sarcasm
Sarcasm is another defense used by passive aggressive personalities. It allows you to express your resentment through a comment or a joke, ultimately aiming to hurt you. This allows them to avoid direct confrontation.
He mutters more or less discreetly
What’s more annoying than someone muttering at you while you’re talking. In fact, the person is only continuing the dialogue with themselves about what they really wanted to tell you. But she does it by trying to touch you, within earshot.
He reluctantly agrees
An upset passive-aggressive person may also agree to do something they internally refuse. But in this case, she will not fail to let you know with a negative and bitter attitude, a sulk, or with ill will.
He refuses physical connections
When he is not satisfied, a passive-aggressive person may also avoid any affectionate physical contact, or even eye contact… which you try hard to initiate, to find out if he is okay.
He claims to cooperate
Finally, the passive aggressive can also commit to doing something, but will not keep his promise, or will do the task requested, while doing it badly. So as not to be asked again. An attitude that can only make the partner cringe.
Good in his body, good in his head!
How to react to passive aggressive behavior?
Being around a partner, a friend, or a passive aggressive parent is difficult to live with, and can also put us on our nerves. According to Johanna Rozenblum, when this is the case, we must act in several stages.
First of all, use your best judgment. “By being around a passive aggressive person, we no longer always know if we are right, or if we have misunderstood the situation. In this case, I advise not to hesitate to seek the advice of a loved one, or a psychologist to retrace the exchanges and define if there is a problem in the behavior of the other, while clarifying the makes it have nothing to do with us.”
Dealing with this personality type is sometimes a balancing act, but the psychologist invites us to hold on. “The challenge is then to not get into the passive aggressive game, by being as down to earth as possible, and by pushing him into his contradictions, but without getting carried away. Did he agree? Push him to assume his responsibilities by remaining focused on the answers you expected, and don’t let yourself be fooled by the oratorical qualities of the person who often tries to turn the situation around.” she explains.
Finally, Johanna Rozenblum advises stand firm. “The danger is to fall into a scenario where the other reinvents history to their advantage. What we can do in this case is to announce things clearly: faced with a choice, a situation, we will not speak not with the passive aggressive, as long as he uses strategies to get around the problem.”
Difficult, but necessary if you want to move forward!