What Is Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Passive Aggressive

“Passive Aggression or Passive Aggressive Behaviour – Being covertly spiteful with the intent of inflicting mental pain.” – Ashta-Deb 

Instead of being directly confrontational, those who are passive-aggressive are indirectly aggressive. Passive-aggressive behavior, for instance, can manifest as opposition to another person’s wishes by delaying, being sour, or being difficult. 

An aggressive person is more confrontational or overly assertive, whereas a passive person typically lets others take the initiative. Therefore, a person who is passive-aggressive exercises influences over situations in a less obvious or direct manner. 

Passive-aggressive behavior is described by the American Psychological Association as “activity that appears innocent, accidental, or neutral but that implicitly shows an unconscious aggressive motive.” 

There are many ways that passive-aggression conduct might manifest: 

1. Ghosting out 

2. Give you an unintentional compliment. 

3. Often indulge in giving silent treatment. 

4. Obliquely reject your request. 

5. Prefers making excuses rather than expressing their mind out. 

6. Answer your questions with sarcasm or subliminal jabs. 

This kind of person may continually say that they are not angry or feeling good, even if they are extremely upset and not okay. They prevent further contact and refuse to talk about the problem by rejecting what they are feeling and refusing to be emotionally vulnerable. 

There are numerous ways that this behaviour can appear. A passive-aggressive person may find excuses to avoid particular people sharing personal information on a regular basis in order to express their dislikes. 

Requesting your partner to empty the dishwasher, having them promise they would, and then never doing it or doing it at the last minute are examples of passive-aggressive behavior in a marriage. Or they might say something caustic like, “Why yeah, I’d love to unload the dishwasher for you,” in response. 

Someone who engages in aggressive behavior at work may use sarcasm with coworkers or procrastinate on finishing tasks. Withholding crucial information as though to punish the team by depriving them of the information required for progress is another instance of passive-aggressive behavior relating to the workplace. 

Lets Understand Some Effects of Passive Aggressive Behavior 

A person’s relationships may suffer when they are passive-aggressive. They may not understand why they are given silent treatment or why their demands are ignored because they do not convey their emotions to those with whom they interact. These actions may damage the relationship over time. The spouse of the passive-aggressive person may grow weary of being repeatedly asked to do something or they may begin to dislike the snide remarks. This might drive a wedge. 

Additionally, the underlying anger or irritation is never addressed because the individual who is being passive-aggressive doesn’t express how they are feeling. Instead of dealing with the problems and moving forward, the situation worsens. 

Employees who are passive-aggressive at work may face disciplinary action or even termination. Aggressive students may get low grades as a result of incomplete or late assignments, which can affect their GPA and lead to poor academic performance.


1. Family upbringing: According to some experts, passive-aggressive conduct can develop as a result of growing up in a setting where expressing one’s emotions openly was frowned upon or outright forbidden. People could think that this prevents them from expressing their actual feelings, leading them to choose to keep their anger or dissatisfaction inside.

2. Mental health status: Studies have linked passive-aggressive behavior toward oneself and depression. This is believed to be caused by the person’s disposition, their attributional style, and their coping mechanisms for stressful events. 

3. Situational factors: Situational factors can also affect passive-aggressive conduct. You could be more likely to act subtly when someone annoys you if you are in an environment where showing aggression is not socially acceptable, like at a work or family event.

4. Fear of conflict: It’s not always easy to be assertive and emotionally honest. Passive aggression can seem like a better way to deal with your sentiments when speaking out for yourself is difficult or even terrifying since it avoids having to face the person who is the source of your ire. 

Recognizing Passive Aggressive Behavior 

Observe the following indications: 

1.When you ask them to accomplish something, they simply delay, fail to follow on, or respond rudely.

2. When you try to talk to them about what’s hurting them, they remain mute for no apparent reason and won’t express their feelings. 

3. Although they appear to be upset, they claim to be OK or that nothing is upsetting them, when in fact something is. 

4. They don’t verbally communicate their discontent, yet they nonetheless pout, sigh loudly, or act in other unsatisfactory ways (such as slamming cabinet doors). 

5.They complain about irritating situations with other people to express their anger when the same things happen to them.

Addressing Passive Aggressiveness 

Recognizing the warning indicators of such behavior is the first step. Passive-aggressive actions include sulking, sly flattery, procrastination, disengagement, and refusal to speak. When the other person starts behaving in this way, try to control your rage. Instead, be factual while remaining non-judgmental when pointing out the other person’s feelings.

You might respond, “You seem to be angry at me for asking you to tidy your room,” if you are dealing with a youngster who is obviously upset about having to perform chores. 

It is easier to discuss their actions if they are not to blame. They will also understand that you are aware of their passive-aggressive behavior and that you won’t let it go without resolving the issue. 

Finally, give the individual a chance to process their feelings. Allow them the time and space to process their feelings so that you can respond to them appropriately. 

Dealing With Passive Aggressive Behaviour 

Many people are passive-aggressive without even realizing it. To them, the behavior could seem “natural.” Another possibility is that they believe it’s the best approach to avoid upsetting Someone or something to stop anything negative from happening, like losing their job. Here are certain recommendations- 

1. Develop your sense of self. Passive-aggressive behavior can occasionally result from not being conscious of your feelings. Start keeping track of your emotional state as you react to various people and circumstances. 

2. Give yourself adequate time to adjust. Recognizing your own tendencies is the first step toward change, however, altering your ingrained habits and behaviours may take some time. Be nice to yourself while you work to reduce your aggressive reactions. 

3. Get accustomed to expressing your opinions. If you wish to cease passive-aggressive conduct, you must understand your feelings and learn appropriate ways to express them. Even though conflict is a necessary part of life, knowing how to effectively express oneself can result in better outcomes.

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