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Tips on How to Deal With Passive Aggressive People

February 16, 2021
by TammyS | For Seniors
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Tips on How to Deal with Passive-Aggressive People

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These COVID-19 months have been very trying times.  We have been couped up in our homes, wear masks when we do have to venture out, and cannot congregate with our friends or go to social functions like we used to do in order to stay active and have fun.  And to top that off, there is the current political climate.  Most people can handle all of this and still remain polite and nice to others.  Some however, have become a little snarky.  I think we can all agree that we have know people who are rude and passive-aggressive much of the time and leave you wondering what you did to deserve the way they treat you.  Here are a few tips to deal with those type of individuals.

  1. Know if you are dealing with an openly hostile individual or a passive-aggressive, as in some ways, passive-aggressive people can be more difficult to deal with. A hostile person is direct in their words and action, which lends an air of predictability.  A passive-aggressive is a deeply angry individual and will stab you in your back while smiling at you.  This person is also deeply afraid of confrontation, so they frame their anger and comments with a smile.
  2. Limit the amount of time you spend around rude or passive-aggressive people.  If you cannot avoid them, such as in a work, family, or church situation, try not to let yourself become upset by them.  If you find yourself becoming upset, take a few deep breaths and, if possible, remove yourself from the situation by taking a bathroom break, getting a drink of water, washing your hands, etc.
  3. Don’t take the bait.  You may have to be around someone who acts this way, but you do not have to engage in their drama.  Stay in the present and be assertive when talking.  Passive-aggresives generally like to pick on people they can dominate.
  4. Unless you believe you have done something wrong, do not apologize in response to their comments.  For example, if a coworker or boss makes a remark about your work performance, ask them to be specific in their accusation.
  5. Do not try to change them.  It is not your job. The best way to deal with passive-aggresives is to focus not on changing them, but in taking charge of your own attitudes and behavior.
  6. Avoid “Tit for Tat”.  You may be upset and want to strike back by becoming passive-aggressive yourself.  This will not be helpful and will only serve to make the person deny and claim victimhood.  Do not give up your power and let someone else turn you into the type of person you do not wish to be.
  7. For passive-aggressives with whom you need to interact on a regular basis, you may eventually have to put a stop to any serious confrontations that can be damaging to your reputation, career, etc.   You be the one that sets the tone for the interactions between you.  Whenever possible, have a third-party present or communicate via written format so you have a trail of facts, deadlines, agreements, issues, etc. and can prove them if necessary.  Even if this person refuses to communicate this way, you can send them an e-mail summing up your verbal conversation and ask them to respond if anything is not correct.  With today’s technology it is possible to receive confirmation when the recipient has received and opened your e-mail.

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