If you know someone who makes you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster and consistently shuns “talking about” things, then you probably know a passive aggressive person. Passive aggression can range from the very mild, such as not meeting up at the designated time, to the really sabotaging like doing something sloppily just to get back at someone.
You can identify these people by their unreasonable demands, lack of hostility but a serious feeling of discomfort in the relationship and repetitive subterfuge.
Here are some tips for successfully handling passive aggressive people.
- Don’t overreact. Reduce personalization and misunderstanding.
- Maintain a healthy distance.
- Don’t get sucked in. Avoid tit for tat.
The best way for problem solving with passive aggressive people is by avoiding drawing any negative conclusions. Instead, exercise self control and analyze the situation to see if there is any other way to approach it. For example, if you are wondering why your friend hasn’t returned your call don’t immediately think that they are trying to shut you out. It’s quite probable that they are just busy at the moment and will call you at the nearest possible opportunity. Effective communication is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.
Sometimes, you will find that passive-aggressive people are more difficult to communicate and deal with than those who are openly hostile. This is because when you are handling difficult people it is easier to predict a person who is direct in his behavior and actions. On the other hand, dealing with passive aggressive people can be quite different from handling aggressive people. They hide their poison behind a bouquet of roses and you will be disarmed by their apparent sweetness. Those who are passive aggressive always have an ego problem and will deny responsibility. The best thing to do (if you can’t communicate with them in a healthy manner) is to maintain a safe distance.
Some bullying in the workplace doesn’t happen at a level just below the radar that it can’t be pointed out to your superiors. If you have encountered such undercover bullies, don’t strike back with verbal argument or abuse, or what’s worse is that you could resort to like passive aggressive behavior yourself. You wouldn’t be able to fight back as the passive aggressive person will deny your accusations and refute your claims of victimhood. Covert hostility will be dealt with using even more passive aggression. Don’t give away your power and let another turn you into a stealthy monster.