How to Deal With Passive Aggressive People in 8 Proven Ways

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There are certain things to understand before we know how to deal with passive aggressive people, but before that, we need to know what passive aggressive behavior is.

What does it mean to be a passive aggressive person, or what is referred to as passive aggressive behavior?

Passive aggressive behavior is an indirect way of expressing displeasure towards a person. This simply means that it is a negative feeling towards a person that is not openly expressed.

In other words, we can say passive aggressive behavior is a passive form of aggressiveness. What are the things that characterize a passive-aggressive person or the signs of passive-aggressive behavior to look out for in people?

The following signs will help you discover people with passive-aggressive behavior:

Behavior of Passive Aggressive People



1. Procrastination

Someone with passive-aggressive behavior will be reluctant to do anything you tell him or her to do. He or she takes time to get things done.

This is because they are not happy doing these things for you, but they cannot openly tell you that they will not be able to perform the task you gave them, maybe because you are superior to them. They will usually give excuses for why they fail to perform a task or do a particular thing.

2. Silent Treatment

People with passive aggressive behavior will always prefer to give people with whom they have issues silent treatment instead of openly addressing the matter.

Such people may try to conceal their anger by trying to avoid open confrontation or outbursts of their anger, and instead of communicating their hurt or pain to the other people who may have hurt them, they choose to be quiet and express their anger without being vocal about it.

3. Sabotage

One other thing about people with passive-aggressive behavior is that they try to thwart the efforts of others. People like this will find ways to always see something bad about the things that you do. They will always criticize your effort, no matter how hard you try.

4. Partial Compliance

Passive aggressive people are also easy to identify because they will show their displeasure through their actions. When this kind of person is given a task or assigned a role to perform, they will do some and leave out the rest.

Having examined some of the signs of passive aggressive people we shall briefly mention some of the causes of this behavior.

Causes of passive aggressive behavior

1. Fear of confrontation

One of the causes that contribute to passive aggressive behavior is the fear of confrontation. People who resolve to this kind of attitude usually do so because they are scared of openly confronting the people who hurt or offended them.

They do not know how to bring up the issue and how to vocalize their anger when they are hurt. They will then conceal this offense and react by subtly expressing their feeling of hurt through their action.

This is why people are hard to understand because sometimes you might be confused and find it difficult to find what exactly wrong you have done since they refuse to openly address the issue.

2. Being inexpressive

Some people do not know how to hold a conversation with people or how to express how they feel about a particular thing.  Instead of these persons choosing to find ways to always communicate their thoughts they resolve to give people the silent treatment which may result in passive aggressive behavior because he or she is acting based on an issue that is concealed which should have been resolved with communication.

3. Envy or Jealousy

People who are envious of others may have this attitude towards the people they are jealous of. Envy can create hatred or bitterness in their soul towards the person they are envious of even if they have never done anything wrong to them. Envious people will always not see the good in others no matter how hard they try.

Since they can not openly talk about the envy in their mind, they can start exhibiting funny attitudes toward the people they are jealous of.

4. Unresolved conflict

Some people find it hard to forgive the people who offend them. They may hold on to grudges and also find it hard to let go. This can be the cause of passive aggressive behavior.

Having discovered the signs and causes of a passive aggressive attitude we shall then look at how to deal with passive people.

How to Deal With Passive Aggressive People


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1. Having open communication with them

Dealing with passive agggressive people can sometimes be hard because you may not know what you have done wrong to them.

Since these people are usually silent or quiet about their anger most times, once you notice a change in their attitude towards you you feel a negative energy from them.

It is better to communicate with them in clear terms. Initiate the conversation by asking them questions.

Find out what is wrong and trash things out immediately.

You should not also resort to giving silent treatment like them. There is a saying that two wrongs can not make a right.

2. Be patient with them

Patience is one of the key ways to deal with passive aggressive people. Do not allow their behavior to easily provoke you to act towards them.

Do not allow their behavior to trigger you to act, you should try to judge the situation by analyzing their behavior and the reason for their action.

Reflect on the things that have happened between you and them and figure out why they have suddenly become passive aggressive towards you.

3. Try to be attentive to them

How to deal with passive aggressive people is also by listening to them attentively. Since they usually conceal their displeasure or anger one needs to find out the concealed feeling when they talk.

Analyze the way they respond to you and try to figure out if they are trying to be sarcastic in their response when they talk to you.

Also, be attentive to their mood and composure. If you notice that they are gloomy or act grudgingly towards you. You can ask them questions to find out what’s wrong

4. Use jokes to ease off the situation

If you are in the same room with a person with passive aggressive people you need to find ways to ease off the tense atmosphere when they are angry.

5. Apologize when you are wrong and always admit to your mistakes

In your dealings with passive-aggressive people sometimes you need to be the bigger person. Since they may not necessarily tell you what you did wrong you should make it your duty to apologize to them when you are wrong.

Instead of waiting for them to spell it out to you, it may never happen and it may cause them to hold a grudge against you for a long.

It takes nothing to say sorry to people who we wrong.

6. Talk to them respectively and learn to respect their opinions

You need to learn to talk to passive aggressive people with respect. Do not raise your voice at them or shun them when they talk, listen to them when they talk and appreciate their communication.

This gives room for them to have open communication with you. The reason why some people have this behavior is due to an inferiority complex.

They are scared to express their feelings because they are scared of talking about them since you do not always give room for their opinion on things.

7. Set boundaries

You need to have a very honest conversation with people with passive aggressive beha. Let them know in clear terms the limit to things you can tolerate from them.

Let them know the part of their passive aggressive behavior that you can not keep up with. You don’t have to sound rude while doing this. You just have to be honest with your feelings.

You should let them know that unless they choose to communicate the way they feel to you through words. You can not put yourself through the trouble of trying to figure out what is wrong.

8. Give them space

Sometimes you may need to give people with passive aggressive behavior space. If they are not willing to talk, address the issue even when you try to persuade them to let it out.

They still choose the silent treatment. Sometimes it can become bothersome when this behavior is repeatedly displayed by this kind of person. The best action to take might just be to give them space to avoid getting into trouble with them.


All the ways we have considered above are the ways to deal with passive aggressive people. However, aside from creating an enabling room for communication.

You also need to understand them and get to know their attitude to help you know how to relate with them better.

Also, you need to emphasize with them as it shows them that you care about them and helps them open up to you more about things. Do not practice giving them the same silent treatment that they give you.

Try to let them know how you feel about their attitude and encourage having an open conversation with them. This way, one can have an easygoing relationship with passive aggressive people.

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