This is possibly one of the things that may annoy you the most about the people you engage with. Passive-aggressive people focus on one thing which is allowing you to feel their aggression and anger without directly telling you. That indirectness can cause anxiety and overthinking within you. It can make you question whether you did something wrong or how this person views you. Their behavior can spark you to battle this internal dialogue unnecessarily.
People who engage in passive-aggressive behavior are unable to communicate in healthy ways. They often have an inability to resolve issues within themselves or with other people maturely. This could be because they lack good communication skills, they are jealous of you or insecure with themselves, or they are angry about something they think you did to them. Whatever their reasoning is, it always stems from something they are trying to direct at you to make them feel better.
I am here to tell you that just because someone is passive aggressive towards you and doesn’t know how to vocalize their emotions that doesn’t mean that you did something wrong or you’re at fault for something. It means that something is bothering them but they are having a hard time processing exactly what that is. You have every right to ask the person when they are being passive aggressive if you did something wrong or if something is upsetting them.
You are extending the opportunity for honesty and support and it is their choice if they want to accept the extension and be honest. It is a type of behavior that is annoying and immature and yet there are those that still feel the need to be passive aggressive. It demonstrates that a person is incapable of mature communication or acting out. When you are a victim of this behavior and have addressed it, you now have the choice of whether you want to engage in it. If it is happening with someone you have no choice in interacting with, there is little you can do except establish very clear boundaries and steer clear of them as much as you can.
If it happening with a co-worker, boss, family member, or friend, get to the bottom of it. Be upfront and ask if they are intentionally trying to act rude or dismissive towards you. Ask what they are hoping will happen as a result of acting this way and if the relationship is still important to them. Try being direct or opening communication with a gentle startup. Use an “I feel” statement. Ask them to clarify. Tell yourself that you did nothing wrong and allow the person to be honest if something you did was not right or offended them. You have that right to ask, how you choose to act moving forward, and which reality you want to be in.
The most important thing to remember about passive-aggressiveness is that this behavior is not personal and you should ignore it, get away from it, or confront it head-on. The second most important thing to remember is not to stoop to their behavior. Making you irritated, angry, or mad with them will only fuel their actions more and make you lose your own integrity. You can do better than that! Don’t allow someone’s passive aggressiveness to dismantle what you think about yourself or how you behave.
If you are finding yourself struggling with a passive-aggressive person or in a toxic relationship, reach out to speak to a counselor in Orlando who can help. At Orlando Thrive Therapy there are relationship therapists and adult individual counselors who can help you navigate this type of unhealthy communication style. Most of all, no matter what you do, Be Proud Of Yourself!
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.