While it is relatively easy to spot passive aggressive behavior in others, it might be more difficult to recognize it in yourself.
It’s true that passive aggression seems to sulk down in the corner at times, but it’s not without telltale signs.
In fact, how you communicate with others is a strong indicator whether you’re behaving passive aggressively or not.
For instance, do you find communicating with others especially difficult? Maybe you feel that no one really gets you or even respects you. Because of these feelings, you could very well be operating from a passive-aggressive stance.
Consider these subtle indicators that passive aggression may be crippling your communication.
You Don’t Truly Express Yourself
Passive aggressive people hardly ever say exactly what they mean to say. If you’re like most people dealing with passive-aggressive tendencies, you’ve probably resorted to another way of getting your point across.
You might even feel that you don’t really get the chance to truly express yourself.
Although you might make comments and speak to others, you could still feel stifled.
You Attempt to Speak Through Silence
Because you might often feel that you’re not taken seriously, respected, or simply can’t get your point across, you give the silent treatment.
This might not be intentional. If you examine your communication patterns, though, a destructive pattern could unveil itself.
It could be something as simple as failing to acknowledge a co-worker in the hall when you’ve clearly made eye contact.
These moments of deliberate silence are characteristics of passive aggression. They mostly create confusion, mistrust, and cripple future communication attempts.
Stubbornness Gets the Best of You
Sometimes it’s completely appropriate to stick to your guns and stand up for what you believe.
Other times, it’s not.
Being stubborn and sticking to your opinion simply because it was your initial thought is a form of passive aggression. It inhibits successful communication, because rarely is your opinion grounded in anything but stubbornness.
Others tend to sway from any form of genuine communication with you because you’re “stuck” on your opinion and typically closed-minded anyway.
You Sandwich Insults
Also known as backhanded compliments, you have a habit of dealing out candy-coated insults.
An example of this would be to compliment a friend on their new “fixer-upper” home when they’re obviously proud as first-time homeowners.
These types of comments make others feel negative about the situation at hand. Jealousy is often the motivation behind this crippling communication habit.
As you can imagine, people will soon stop sharing their heartfelt bits of information with you because of the hidden harshness you dole out.
Allowing Distractions to Ruin a Conversation
Allowing yourself to be pulled away from a conversation because of a distraction is the epitome of disrespect.
That is exactly the underlying message you’re sending to the other person.
“I don’t respect you enough to give you my full attention.”
It communicates that they are unimportant and irrelevant to you at that moment. It could be something as simple as checking your phone when they’re trying to engage in conversation.
What you’d really like to do is tell them you have mounds of work and unfortunately can’t have a lengthy conversation at the moment. Instead, you try to spare their feelings by taking an indirect approach and let the distraction do the talking.
What this action really does is force any true understanding of the situation to be buried under resentment.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to take a step toward changing your life for the better, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT