Recognizing Passive-aggressive Behaviours
Passive-aggressive is the behaviour when a person indirectly expresses disagreement instead of openly addressing them. There's a disconnect between what a person who exhibits passive-aggressive behaviour says and what they do.. Passive-aggressive people indirectly express their discomfort instead of openly addressing them, leading to the disconnection between what a person says and what they do.
Passive-aggressive people might appear to agree with you, but they are resentful towards your suggestion or action. They express their disagreement by responding sarcastically, missing deadlines, or not doing what they agree to do.
The cause of passive-aggressive behaviour varies. People with mental health challenges,
including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial
personality disorder, may often be passive-aggressive. People may also learn to be passive-
aggressive as they grow up with caregivers or parents who are passive-aggressive.
Passive-aggressive behaviour is a defence mechanism. People who feel powerless, helpless, or misunderstood may adopt passive-aggressive behaviour to avoid conflict while trying to convey their displeasure. People with deep seated attachment injuries or rejection and struggle to assert their needs or boundaries directly may also adopt passive-aggressive behaviour without realizing it.
Signs that you or your partner/friend may be passive-aggressive include:
• Resentment to the demands of people in positions of authority
• Lack of cooperation
• Cynical or hostile attitude
• Frequent complaints about feeling under-appreciated or dismissed.
Quite frequently, passive-aggressive people may not even realize that they are being passive-aggressive. Therefore, being aware and reflective of how you relate to others is essential. The next step is identifying the triggers that leads to the passive-aggressive response. If you are passive-aggressive, think of how you might like people to reply and do likewise. If someone is being passive-aggressive to you, consider letting them know.
Passive-aggressive people often struggle with assertiveness and lack communication skills.
Learning to draw appropriate boundaries reduces the passive-aggressive response. Learning to communicate more clearly instead of being passive-aggressive help strengthen your
relationship with your loved ones or others.
Passive-aggressive is not a mental health disorder. But it can impede your interpersonal
relationships and your career progression. You can process and overcome passive-aggressive
behaviour through counselling or verbal therapy like Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). However, attachment injury and childhood experience trigger most passive-aggressive behaviours. Therefore, exploring the underlying issue that provoked passive-aggressive behaviour through therapy like psychodynamics and EMDR, which addresses childhood trauma, will be helpful. You might also consider couple therapy to address the passive-aggressive behaviour if it affects your love relationship.
Restoring Peace Counselling and Consultancy provides counselling and psychotherapy services for children, adolescents, youths and adults individuals, couples and groups facing anxiety, depression, trauma, and various mental health and relationship challenges. For more
information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848.
Keywords: passive-aggressive, communication, mental health, relationships, therapy,
counselling, challenges, work, behaviors, feelings.