Do you know someone who is passive/aggressive? Passive/aggressive behavior is when someone is upset with you, but rather than try to work it out, they deny being upset. Instead, they do things to hurt or anger you.
Over a year ago when my parents came to my home, my mother wanted me to do something for her. As usual, she ordered me to do it, rather than asked. For the first time in my life, it ticked me off. I’m her daughter, not the hired help & I don’t like being treated as such. So, I responded with “since you asked me so nicely, of course I’ll do it.” She didn’t say anything, but apparently it sank in.
A few days later, my mother called me, wanting me to look something up on my computer for her. Rather than her usual demand, she asked me nicely, so I looked it up. Small victory for me! I quickly realized though that she wasn’t happy about asking rather than demanding, because she became passive/aggressive. Her hearing isn’t the best, but she also uses that when it benefits her to do so. While I was on the phone with her yesterday, about every other sentence at first was “What did you say? I can’t hear you Honey!” (Interestingly she only calls me Honey when she is playing deaf, which is how I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what she is up to.) I was practically screaming into the phone before she suddenly heard me. However, as the conversation went on, her hearing suddenly became better. I could speak fairly quietly & she heard me. Why? I think partly because I let her ramble on- she gained her narcissistic supply, which pleased her- & partly because she felt that she had satisfactorily let me know she wasn’t pleased with being forced to ask me to do something rather than demand it.
During the conversation, my mother also slipped in snide comments about how much she hates scary movies/books. She doesn’t understand how anyone can like such awful things! Why was this mentioned out of the blue? No doubt because she knows I love scary movies & stories. This is a way to scold me for my “poor choices” without directly doing so. A way to say I’m wrong without using those exact words.
There are other ways a person can exhibit passive/aggressive behavior, such as:
- being sarcastic.
- withholding praise, affection or intimacy.
- giving the silent treatment.
- running late.
- either not getting around to doing something asked of him/her, or doing it very poorly so you are forced to do it yourself if you want it done right.
Does any of this behavior sound familiar to you?
A lot of people are passive/aggressive. It’s a very common phenomenon with narcissists, but I think with non-narcissistic people as well. It’s a very immature type of behavior, & since there are a great deal of immature people in the world, it’s no wonder it’s quite common.
So how do you deal with a person who behaves this way?
First, you need to be able to recognize it. If you don’t recognize passive/aggressive behavior, you’ll end up enabling it. You’ll ask the person what is wrong, try to make them happy, do what they seem unable or unwilling to do.
Next, refuse to play along. If the person wants to behave badly, that is his/her choice. If someone is constantly late when you are supposed to get together, tell the person that the next time they are late, you will do whatever you are supposed to do together without that person. Then follow through on it. Or, if the person is obviously upset, ask what is wrong. If she says nothing is wrong, let it go. Don’t try to pry it out of her- she is an adult & can behave as such if she wants to resolve the issue.
Be happy. Pretend not to notice the other person sulking. Go on with your day in peace. It will annoy the other person that her behavior isn’t working as she wanted it to, so she may give up on it.
Passive/aggressive behavior is very common on social media. Vague posts about how “some people” behave or think just after you had a disagreement on that topic, or posting things showing a person is for something you aren’t or vice versa are all too common. Social media is great, but it can be a useful tool for narcissists & passive/aggressives. When these things happen, ignore them. Obviously the person posting what they have wants to make a point without discussing it with you in an adult manner. Opting to try to discuss it with them would most likely only frustrate you. Just ignore them. Unfollow or unfriend them.