For a long time I didn’t know what it meant to be passive aggressive. Well, I knew what it meant by definition, but I didn’t know how to identify the behavior in myself or others. Passive-aggressive behavior can be defined as a defense mechanism that people use when they don’t want to come off “too strong” or just plain ol “aggressive”. It can get tricky, but some of the traits include deliberately procrastinating, backhanded compliments, and the silent treatment.
I am the type that will keep quiet or say something snarky when I disagree with something or don’t think it’s a good idea or get quiet when I am frustrated or upset about something. It wasn’t until recently that I realize how much that was hurting me more than anyone and *lightbulb* I was being passive aggressive. At last, I was able to identify this behavior in me. For those of you who may find it hard to pinpoint passive aggressiveness in you or the people you surround yourself with, here’s are a few guides
that may help:
The One Word Response “Sure.”, “Fine.”, and “Whatever.” are some of the phrases of passive-aggressive behavior. The “you’re not completely aligned with something but you’re just going to push it off and agree so you don’t have to deal with it or express yourself” response. Now not every “sure”, “fine”, or “whatever” is passive aggressive but definitely keep an ear out for tone of voice. If you think the person may be suppressing their feelings, gently nudge them.
The Silent Treatment This goes back to some people being uncomfortable with asking for what they want. Some people would rather say nothing than express what they are feeling or their thoughts. Take note of the person who is the most quiet and maybe ask them, specifically, if they have anything to share. This way you don’t let them get away without expressing themselves.
The Backhanded Compliment “She’s pretty for a white/light/dark-skinned girl.” Bish, whet? Backhanded compliments or comments are very passive aggressive. People try to hide behind them rather than express how they really feel. Don’t be so caught up on the compliment that you don’t recognize its intention. Once you hear something like this, take your compliment but definitely ask for clarification or a follow up with a question to get to the root of the meaning.
Procrastinating If someone doesn’t want to do something, they will automatically file it at the bottom of my priorities. If you find yourself procrastinating about something or someone is procrastinating about something you’ve asked them for, recognize they might be displaying passive-aggressive behavior and nip it in the bud!
Now that you know a few tips on how to identify this behavior, here’s how you can fix it:
Speak up Be vocal with your feelings. Bottling your emotions up will only cause you to become more of what you’re already feeling; angry, sad, frustrated, etc. Once a situation comes up that you aren’t completely aligned with, don’t be afraid to express your thoughts. It’s definitely okay to take some time and get your thoughts together but don’t keep quiet forever.
Ask questions Asking clarifying questions can be helpful in a number of ways. For starters, it can stop you from jumping to conclusions about a situation. Asking the right questions can give you a better idea of what’s going on which will in turn help you respond to a situation rather than react to it.
Be a little selfish If you put yourself first in a situation, you will have no problems speaking up because you respect the fact that you have needs that you’d like met as well. Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish to get what you want; within reason, of course.