Are You Secretly Passive-Aggressive? |

Are You Secretly Passive-Aggressive?

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Sullen, silent and prone to sulking when they don’t get their way – passive-aggressive people are easy to spot. Or are they? Passive-aggression is usually unconscious, so you could be expressing your anger covertly without even realising it.

Some psychologists think passive-aggressive behaviour developed as a form of self-protection – a ‘safer’ way for our ancestors to express rage than direct aggression (which could have got them killed). Others put it down to the way young girls are often conditioned to see anger as an undesirable trait and told to ‘play nice’ instead.

Whatever the case, it’s not emotionally healthy. Along with preventing underlying issues from being resolved, passive-aggression can also lead to upset and resentment in those on the receiving end. So if you’re not always honest about your negative feelings, here are five subterfuge signs to look out for…

Being Late For Work

Being repeatedly late is an insult, sending out the message: ‘I am more important than you’. But passive-aggressive people are often late because they feel unimportant, and not showing up on time is a way to regain some control.

If you really hate your job, being late could also be a form of resistance – expressing disapproval of your boss, the company you work for or even the purpose of a meeting. The same can be said for procrastination – find yourself putting off a task you think is unimportant, or even doing a bad job of it? That’s classic passive-aggression.

Making Wistful Statements

This often happens when people want something, but don’t ask for it directly – instead hoping people will pick up on their clues. “I wish I could go to that party…” and “I’ve always wanted to holiday there, but it’s so expensive…” are classic examples.

Statements like these make the other person feel guilty, so don’t play the victim and re-word them instead: “Can I come to the party with you?” and “If you plan to holiday there again, let me know and I’ll save up!” are much more straightforward.

On a Similar Note

Being A Gossip

While it’s normal to discuss mutual friends and their lives, making negative comments behind their backs isn’t. If a friend has annoyed you, air your grievances with them directly rather than slating their actions to others.

Try not to keep score of your friends’ positive and negative actions. Accept that people aren’t perfect and avoid falling into tit-for-tat patterns – this is key for creating supportive friendships.

Ignoring Texts

Ever wonder why you instantly reply to some people’s messages, while others lay unopened for days? Giving people the silent treatment applies to text messages and phone calls too, no matter how busy you are.

If you deliberately take a long time to reply to your love interest, that’s also passive-aggression. What’s known as ‘playing hard to get’, is actually a form of withholding power – by making someone else feel insecure, you’re deflecting your own insecurities about the way they feel towards you.

Punishing Yourself

Being cynical, feeling underappreciated, complaining about personal misfortune and holding a negative view of the future are all traits of passive-aggressive people.

Self-defeating thoughts and self-sabotaging behaviour (like being late for work each day) can stop you succeeding. So instead of blaming things on others and circumstances outside of your control, take responsibility for your life and try to change the things you’re unhappy about.

Ringing true? Transform your passive aggression into assertiveness with the help of Andrea Brandt’s 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness (£9.99, Amazon), or get your anger out in a healthier – and enjoyable – way with The Passive-Aggressive Colouring Book (£8.99, Amazon).


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