How Do You Deal With Passive Aggressive Personality Types?

chris_rock182155019_std.jpg“It’s like being Chris Rock or something,” I told the soldier. “You’re standing there trying to do your job and you have one bastard that just constantly heckles you. Obviously you have to get rid of the person. Or in this case, say you’re at work. You’re just at your job and someone comes up to you says, gee you look angry. You’re so angry today.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, they say gee. You really ought to do something about that anger of yours…”

“At that point, I’d punch the son of a bitch,” he said.

“Yeah, and when you do, they say see! See that anger of yours?  That’s a passive aggressive and I absolutely hate dealing with them. They go around pissing people off and acting innocent and you just want to knock them to kingdom come.”

“No one has ever done that to me. I’ve seen people do it though. If someone ever did that to me I’d put my fist through their face and that would be the end of it…”

Liz Greene wrote about someone like this in one of her books. The guy knocks on her door late at night, wanting to have a conversation about this or that… peace. She says no and he tells her she is an angry person. She really ought to do something about the anger she is carrying around.

My friend, Ben told me once that he’d found he could deal with pretty much anyone. “Whatever their problem, I can deal with it except the passive aggressive. “Those people, I just cannot stand.” I agree with Ben.

How do you deal with passive aggressives? How do you think this kind of trolling would show up in a chart?

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How Do You Deal With Passive Aggressive Personality Types? — 59 Comments

  1. My family was very passive aggressive when I was young. I think they’ve gotten better in more recent years but it was tough trying to keep up with the undertow as a kid. These days I tend to be the one willing to step up and speak about whatever everyone else is tiptoeing around. No way am I going to let anyone get away with being passive aggressive without calling them on it, at least when it’s something that affects me.

  2. I’ve entertained myself by manipulating the passive aggressive a time or two, and occasionally I’ve used ‘em “Someone needs to xyz” “Hmm Why don’t you get started and if I have time . . ”

    My mom was extremely passive aggressive and while I fall into those patterns sometimes I’ve come a long way on avoiding them. It just seems so self defeating and whiny.

  3. Nowadays I deal with passive aggressive behaviour in two ways: if I care about the person I ask them a direct question. “Are you trying to say _____?”
    My SO can be quite passive aggressive but I recognize where it stems from. I think he can be quite timid sometimes in telling me how he feels because I can be really emotionally, ahem, “articulate.”

    I used to just act like it never happened, as a way of punishing them, I think, as in “Well if you can’t come out and say what you feel that’s YOUR problem…”

    Then I realized that was passive aggression in and of itself (doh!) and so I really try not to do that.

  4. Oh, and as for the “you look really angry” type comments: I have a friend who, for his line of work, was educated in how the RCMP interrogates people.
    This friend was the one who let me in on what was a big secret to me: this is also a diversion tactic, much like passive aggression is. You’re talking about X, and someone comes along and says Y, which is personal, about you, not relating to anything that is actually happening in the moment, and actually judgmental (what, do they actually care about you being angry?)

    I asked him his opinion on how to deal with those type of comments and he said “Just say ‘that’s an irrelevant side issue and there is something much more important that I’m trying to convey.'”
    I’ve tried it (when I can remember) and it works.

  5. Isn’t it!!! They also do this thing where they put the person being interrogated in a corner table, sit kitty corner, and as they question come nearer and nearer, every so slightly pushing the table towards the person being questioned until they’re basically trapped against the wall. The goal is to have them crack, right?

  6. Kashmiri and Elsa, the kids and I did lots of family counseling. Communication is an issue, still is, for all three of us. K, you are decribing what our counselour described as “you messages”. You this or You that. That is a no no in communication. He said to turn the thought around to an I feel sentence in order to even consider being heard. This is a communication skill not a plan of attack. Wow, this past two days of E’s blog has been riveting!

  7. LOL, “you look really angry”. I consider this the most coward-like and annoying form of manipulation. My Mars can’t stand cowards. For one reason or another, passive aggressives can’t fight openly but still have the nerve to poke and provoke a fight – then run away crying foul!
    The most effective solution I’ve found is to remain detached and let them use my energy to reveal themselves. These folks set themselves up to look bad/fail, all you have to do is get out of the way.

    Kashmiri – “Well if you can’t come out and say what you feel that’s YOUR problem…” well, yeah ;)

  8. Elsa,

    The passive aggressiveness I usually encounter is the “You look tired”. And it comes usually comes when I feeling energized and especially vibrant. I don’t get it? So, my response is no I’m feeling great.

  9. Well, all I know is if anybody used the word pathology to describe me or anybody in my tribe I would know they are riding the “I’m superior” express and I’d either come out swinging, or walk.

  10. Passive-agreesiveness drives me batty. I’m very direct most of the time and find life SO much easier that way. Say what you mean and mean what you say, damnit!

    My MIL, whom we don’t really see anymore, had the P.A. thing down to an art form. One time, she invited us to dinner, specifically making big issue of wanting to treat us–what wasn’t big issue with her?–but while we were waiting to go eat, spent the entire time “worrying” aloud if she had enough credit left on her card to cover the dinner. Arrrgggh! Everything she did was like this.

    Now, I don’t know why she was like this, and I don’t really care. We ignored it, and learned to just pretend like we didn’t even hear whatever it was that she was shooting out there. Who could figure it out anyway? Who wants to bother with the energy it would take to decode the submessages? (Any wonder why we don’t really see her anymore?)

    Now, I mostly deal with that sort of thing by ignoring it as totally irrelevant. I don’t really get the point-if it’s insecurity, if it’s a feeling of entitlement, or what. It’s an internal process on their part and not connected to me at all.

    (Got to get the sound fixed up on my computer so I can watch E’s controversial video…LOL)

  11. “(Got to get the sound fixed up on my computer so I can watch E’s controversial video…LOL)”

    Well just be careful, goddess because I say all kinds of shit I didn’t say in there, you know how I am.

  12. yes, i definitely know how you are. you’re always saying things you didn’t say and i can project whatever i need to hear on top of it and that’s how i get some rhino food for the day…har!

    that’s why i have to get my sound fixed… :LOL:

  13. well, goddess you know a fuckin’ whore like me, what can you do? If only I were sensitive or something.

    Oh yeah, I am sensitive. That’s it, I am OVER sensitive! Thank God there are people to remind me! For a minute there I thought I was okay!

  14. God! I think I am one. Maybe that’s what happens to a Scorp Sun with Capricorn Moon/Ascendant and plenty of Mars. The fighting spirit turns internal steam way too high when my fishy bottom half brings down the high flying goat-woman. I get very angry at the choices others make that equal environmental illness (which I live with). When I wasn’t sure of the reason I couldn’t stay in one place on earth very long … I got angry at the source; was it all ‘just me’. Neighbors and old friends who continued to spray pesticides instead of pull weeds, even when I asked them to stop because I get really sick. For yrs I’d apologize for being sick from the exposures. Turning that Scorpio energy on myself. Passive Aggression not only makes the folks crazy, the native can get even crazier.
    14 yrs later, I recognize how necessary it is to use the energy of my Saturn chaos to make peace with the challenge of “passive aggression” and spill the beans out front. OOOh…people don’t know what to do when the volcano blows.

  15. So timely for me. My family are ALL this way and I used to constantly attract people with this kind of energy. It has driven me to despair and back again. At one time I would get turbocharged and get right in there with them but now I just cut loose and float away.

    We are in the middle of a family crisis right now and it’s so interesting to see the patterns repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s so damned crazy making having to deal with other people’s garbage and projections. I am not sure what it is about me that sets them off but above and beyond it is also so RUDE to get in someone’s face like that. Emotional self-control has become something that I highly value in another.

  16. kashmiri – that is a great tip! thanks for sharing it.

    i like direct, and it drives me nuts when other people go off the topic. but…..i am such a “big picture” type that i tend to go off on tangents. i don’t like this about myself at all! so, i’m really watching my communication and minding my words.

    when others do this to me, i just keep bringing them back to the point. “so, we were talking about _____, and i wanted to know ________.” tends to bring people back, but best to leave out the frustration if possible;)

    pisces

  17. I don’t often feel comfortable expressing anger – I will express it if I feel it, but often end up feeling guilty (later on), thinking I should have expressed myself in a calmer manner. I don’t know if that makes me passive-aggressive.

    If I’m calm, and someone’s trying to provoke me, then I usually won’t give them a response unless they seem to *need* one (like my sister – I thought about her when I read your other question about whether or not there’s someone in your life you would allow to manipulate you). If I’m emotional, and feeling edgy, then I will respond, or walk away (although walking away is hard, when someone keeps pushing).

  18. Oh, and I tend to go off an tangents, too, so I’m not all that bothered when other people do the same (unless they’re purposely trying to distract me).

  19. I don’t! Not very well, if I have to.

    Don’t tell everyone else that you’re pissed at me, then act all nicey-nice around me, like nothing ever happened. Don’t play games, don’t involve anyone else…just get to the f’n point!

    There’s a lot of them in my hubby’s family. I can’t stand it. They are masters at getting their message across without every directly confronting anyone. It’s always through gossip. ARRRRRRRRGH!

  20. Angela – Me too. Expressing anger is a lot harder than it looks! But everyone has their own way of doing it, and it doesn’t always come out in an obvious manner. Funny, I do the opposite you do, when I’m angry enough to react, I do it by walking away/silence/leaving. It takes energy to respond, express feelings so I usually express anger with people I care about (Venus in Aries)otherwise I can’t be bothered. I figure it’s beyond repair, so I stop caring and let it drop. Same in reverse, I consider it a sign of friendship if someone cares enough to tell me they’re angry – it means they care :)

  21. oh, that’s tricky with the students like that. you can’t just move them out of your life the way i would a friend or an acquaintance….

    i’m trying to strategize positive ways to deal with this sort of behaviour… at least positive enough it doesn’t damage me… and the kids who want to be learning will actually get their opportunities to… i have a couple doozies this year to tangle with.

    it makes me sad.

  22. I have encountered many passive aggressive people in my time, and sadly, the best way to deal with them is ignore them, or cut them off if you’re in a relationship with such a person. These people will seem just fine in public, but in private they are the most manipulative, sad, mentally ill people I’ve ever come across.

    I was actually on my way to an appointment at a hospital when this unknown woman walks right by me and says, “Doesn’t hurt to try.” I was astounded, such a rude thing to say to someone and randomly.

    I made a mistake and called her on it. Of course miss innocent says, no. But with the world’s biggest smirk on her face.

    I continued on into the hospital, shaken. Who becomes passive aggressive at a hospital. Something’s definitely not right there.

    You don’t know what people are going to the hospital for. Usually it’s not good. So for someone to be so passively hostile to someone who is having health problems/visiting dying relatives
    just is mind boggling. She is sick, here’s hoping she came from the psych ward.

    I’ve also had past experiences of dealing in customer service, with the stupidest of people.
    “Do you know such and such is…” I ask a general question nicely.
    “Yes, I was AWARE of that!” They say, in the most condescending tone.

    Or here’s a good one. Two women come into my work at the time and stand there taking a while to order, all the while muttering abusive comments under their breath, loud enough so I could hear.
    “She’s ONE OF A KIND.” The overweight and scary looking one says.
    They continued to say several crappy comments which were obviously directed to me for about five minutes while they ordered. I couldn’t say anything to them. I just let them have their go at it. Another regular customer was behind them,
    witnessing the incident.

    Needless to say, I was intimidated at the time,
    because they were scary looking, but then I realised something. The smaller woman was sitting at a table in the dining area and looked completely sad.

    The thing is if you’re passive aggressive, there are other issues going on. Maybe your life isn’t going the way you’ve planned, and you just happen to see someone to dump your crap on. Random people. You figure you’ll never see them again, so what the heck.

    But you aren’t happy. I’ve seen you. I been friends with a few like you. And being friends with a passive aggressive is like getting a straw stuck in you. You suck and suck, take and take.

    They don’t accept responsibility.
    They can be mean at the drop of a hat
    and only apologize when it’s at their convenience.

    Working with a passive aggressive can be hell too.
    They’re all nice to you and kiss ass to the management when they’re around, but behind the scenes, they treat you badly or ignore you. Even if you have done nothing wrong except excel at your job, and to them, that’s a threat. You’re a threat just for being one extra person between them and the top of the pyramid.

    In summary, run the other way, you won’t win with
    passive aggressives.

  23. If it’s no one I’m close to, I walk away from the energy and the person and don’t engage on a real level anymore. When that’s not an option, like Kashmiri I calmly clarify/spell out what they have said back to them. They really hate this because it takes the passive out their passive aggressiveness – you’re shining light on the trick and asking them to be accountable. They say: You seem angry (no matter how angry you are not), simply because you are daring to mention the truth

    I can’t stand this energy and tend to amputate if not the relationship, if that’s not possible, then at least the stake or expectation or investment I have in it – if it’s someone I care about, always with an eye out for the possibility of change.

  24. This and teasing are two of the things I loathe most. All I’ve been able to come to about it is that they are both designed to load the victims emotions, so the only thing to do is detach and not get uptight. Which is very difficult as usually I want to punch their lights out. Oh well.

  25. As to the astrology, perhaps afflicted Mercury and Mars (inability to express anger/feelings), and Venus, 2nd house self-worth issues?

  26. This guy would come up to me and try to mess me up in a very busy work environment where I was the only chick. He thought I was the runt or he needed someone to bully for a change.

    Jerk: “blah blah blah”

    Me: “No one cares. I’m busy, now get out before I ask x and y what they think about you doing this again on company time.” (x and y were two guys who wanted to kill the rat bastard.)

    Two minutes later, I give him a call to repeat what he said to bug him back.

    If he asks for help, tell him you have no idea, but you’d like to know too.

    Rinse. Repeat.

  27. PA’s like to share their anger, misery, unhappiness, etc. so they project it onto other people. Try responding as if they admitted their own anger.

  28. It wears me out like straight yelling in my face does. The past passive aggressive extraordinaire in my life had a need to let me know what she was doing because I was too dumb to get it. It ended up as a threat. Like woo woo I have control over you. Terrorism was a very effective tool until it wasn’t anymore. Like I said, I get tired.

  29. I get the feelin the passive aggressive is itchin for a fight. I often feel like I’m being pressured to rip off their scab and pour salt into their wound. Not my responsibility.

    Another karmic dump. Thank you very much. :)

  30. My mother-in-law was breath-taking, but the dynamic changed completely when I started collecting her comments – nothing overt, I’d just remember them and later write them down. Now that she’s gone we sometimes reminisce about her ‘Nancyisms’. She was the best, like an inoculation.

  31. I am very Mars-y and have a difficult time with passive aggressive people. I try to avoid them at all costs, but unfortunately it seems there’s way more out here in California, than in NY.

    When I have to confront one, I use a lot of “I” statements as opposed to “you,” which can easily spin out into projection.

    “I was upset when you said/did because I felt violated/betrayed/unsupported.”

  32. My mom is passive aggressive. She bugs the shit out of me because of this. I love her, but it annoys me! When there’s something to be done, she’ll offer you up in a second before asking or won’t even ask until you say something. What! Are you asking me or telling me? You didn’t ask me! I don’t know if that’s passive aggressive or bossy, but whatever the fuck it is it annoys the hell out of me. Yeah, it may have worked when we were little but that time has long passed.

  33. You just have to drop your side of the rope. IMO, notch explained it perfectly. PAs are angry but don’t want to take responsibility for it. It’s not everyone else’s burden to read the PA’s mind and deal with the PA’s anger for him/her.

  34. I used to work for someone who was, and have known people like this. I try to avoid them. When they pull their stuff pretend like I did not hear it. If they escalate, then call them on it.

    The best one I have ever heard, but have not done, but have filed away is when someone says something foolish like that is to repeat it back to them word for word “did you mean to say xxxxxxx” whatever it was, or “Did you really just say to me xxxxxxx and then look at them directly in the eyes and wait for an answer – I hear it works.

    Passive agressive behavior is about control.

  35. Great post Elsa. It’s very helpful (and entertaining at times) for me to read this, having had some PA types in my life–mostly past, but a couple present which remain for better or worse in my inner circle.

    In the past I have amputated, taken my distance, confronted the PA, and painfully endured it when necessary, or when I just didn’t know any better. Increasingly, I wish to confront people. It’s becoming more and more necessary for me to call people out, and also for me to express my anger honestly and directly.

    It can be hard to identify passive aggression, particularly when it’s coming from a “loved one” or close friend. Doubly so if they are gifted in the art of manipulation, which, combined with friendship/love/family ties, gives them access to your soft spots. *Ouch*

    Because i was hardly aqquainted with what the heck passive aggression was up until a few years ago (though it permeated my life at the time), i thought to throw this one out there:

    What IS passive aggression? What qualifies/defines that behavior? I would love to gather a solid understanding so as to better identify it when it rears its ugly head.

    It seems to take many forms….a sort of catch-all for shitty behaviors.

    Heres my take: Passive aggressive behavior is when somebody channels their negativity/anger/judgement towards you in a roundabout or veiled manner.

  36. Well, my aunt wins for P/A behavior this week. Took the cake at Thanksgiving, let me tell you. Kicked us out of her house by 9 a.m. the next day and then was all, “But I expected you to stay for breakfast!” Huh?

    I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do about people who want to have a fight with you, but not actually have a fight with you. Do you pick one with them? Would you even want to?

  37. PA: They’re itching for a fight, but they want to make it look like YOU started it.

    There are quite a few people on the periphery of my life who do this. Neighbors, inlaws, etc.

    They make comments under their breath and think I’m going to take the bait. It doesn’t work. I’ll glare at them, and they usually scurry away.

    Why do they do it? Agree with others: they won’t use or were taught to suppress Mars.

  38. Well I have a debilitated mars in Taurus and I’m absolutely sure I am not passive aggressive. Maybe because I am Aries sun, but I really don’t feel it is the Mars thing. I mean Elsa has Mars in LIbra I believe. But it’s frustrating to me to deal with P.A. because they won’t come right out and fight it out to clear the air even if you go out of your way to provoke them. Extremely frustrating

  39. jamgertrude ‘no such thing as passive aggression’. Love it. I think the law calls it something like ‘sufficient provocation.’ Or is that from some old movie?

    And Ohdear, I remembered my ‘ol brother of yore’ this morning. He always wanted me to do his anger for him. Woolly Bully, he was. And as a kid I fell right into it with a sound that rattled the windows and cleared the room. Nobody needs to experience that.

  40. I have a family member who is not financially solvent and complained for several years about how much she hated her apartment because the people on both sides of her smoked and it smelled in her apartment. She never took the initiative to move but complained, complained, complained and complained.

    Things were brought to a head and the family chipped in to help her. My sister found her a place to live. I donated a very large amount of money to finance her move to a very nice apartment with more affordable rent. The relative did nothing but complain even more about how moving was so hard for her.

    I am worried that she doesn’t save money so I confronted her about it and offered to review her finances, help her budget, and find a way for her to start saving cash for a rainy day. I explained that I am having a baby in a few months and I can’t afford to give handouts like this because I need to have money to buy my baby things. I gave her several hundred dollars in cash (in addition to furnishing her move in deposit and one month’s rent just in case she had more moving costs). I asked her to put away $2000 in a savings account in case she ever needed to move again.

    My relative’s eyes glazed over and she told me that God always takes care of her and she doesn’t need to save money. She then told me that I am an angry person and that I need counseling.

    This is the last time that I will ever speak or interact with this relative again. It’s too much for me to deal with. I’ve done my part. If someone can’t meet me halfway and realize that the world does not revolved entirely around them, I just can’t continue the relationship. She has not recognized my unborn child yet, nor has she realized that the financial and time sacrifices people made in their own lives to get her to a better environment. All she can do is see the negative side of life and be critical of those who help her.

  41. I do have the passive aggressive potential, I hav a libra moon/asc, cancer sun, neptune in scorpio first house and gemini in 8th, I may come across as placid and people pleasing but only now is that geniuine peace, in tha past, I was a volcano, seemingly extinct, yet actually just dormant and letting the pressure build till i erupted, hey I also have mars uranus in 10th house leo, that eruptions had to be dramatic and publiC! I am safe from that now though and so is everyone around me :) It took me a while to realise that keeping the peace and others happy, was just avoiding myself and disrespecting the biggest gift we are given in this life, our own life and needs to be honouring that gift and that we are all perfect as intended!

  42. *think I cleared my post on this accidentally; 2nd time today I had lost data on the pc ugh

    Can’t. I simply discontinue dealing with ppl who engage in passive-aggressive crap. My direct nature is the inverse. Plus my childhood spent watching ppl utilize this ineffective mechanism solidified my distaste for it. Simply cannot stand it.

    My ex fiance is well-off and professionally successful. I ended a relationship where I would be set for life BECAUSE I saw a pattern of this p-aggr crap over 11 months. One day, I was wearing a plether (?) jacket, and Mr. Superficial p-aggr says, “Remember my friend,X, we went to dinner the other night and he was so proud of this new jacket he wore but I don’t think it was leather.” WHO GIVES A S***?! LET YOUR FRIEND BE HAPPY AND JUST SHARE. AND, JERK, I KNOW YOUR SUPERFICIAL A** IS REFERENCING MY NON-LEATHER. So damn insecure. Needed validation constantly. Every EVERY facet of his life was like this. Dropped him. Bye. Ignore his texts. Can’t. Rather die than spend 10 mins w/ him. Just thinking about it disgusts me. /end rant ugh

  43. @ariesgal

    “Well I have a debilitated mars in Taurus and I’m absolutely sure I am not passive aggressive. ”

    Mars in Taurus here too, plus in the 7th. It is directly in partnerships/relationships that I LEAST tolerate p-aggr crap – and I really feel it has to do w/ this placement. Mars in Taurus will pick something to stand their ground on. I think we have a good placement. Feel like it gives conviction, which is lacking in the passive aggr nature. Notice how passive aggr people aren’t those self-examining types? Well, conviction demands self-examination; without self-examination, all the internal crap is flaccidly ‘passed on’. Blargh! /moves on; sorry all for my double rant

  44. I have mars in pisces and I am absolutely NOT passive aggressive. If I’m angry I cry or pray about it. I am also a cap and I don’t think its useful to blame others. It’s a waste of time!

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