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Passive-aggressive: definition, signs, tips

Everyone has their own way of dealing with difficulties, problems, anger and discussions. Some are looking for the way forward, do not shy away from arguments and like to vent their frustration loudly. But there are also people who too passive-aggressive behavior tend. They express their displeasure indirectly, often show a different face to the outside world and are special because of one negative attitude embossed. It is not difficult to guess that this leads to more problems than it solves, both for the person concerned and for those around them. What passive-aggressive behavior is, how you recognize it and how you deal with it ...

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Passive-aggressive definition: what is it actually?

The concept of passive aggressiveness is well known, but it is often difficult to give an understandable definition. In this case, however, Wikipedia can help where there is a lot clear explanation for passive-aggressive behavior finds that gives an initial idea of ​​what is behind it:

Passive-aggressive personality disorder is characterized by a profound pattern Negative attitudes and passive resistance to suggestions and performance requirements that come from other people. In particular, she fails passive resistances towards demands in the social and professional area on and through the frequent unjustified assumptionbeing misunderstood, treated unfairly, or excessively accountable.

For example, while some colleagues clarify a disagreement in the office through an open discussion, passive-aggressive people are either unable to solve such a problem at all or only in a very pessimistic way. The trigger for this behavior is often one low self-esteem, which makes those affected feel inferior to a direct argument and prefer their happiness in the form of indirect - i.e. passive - aggression search.

Passively aggressive people are not able to convey emotions such as anger or frustration and deal with them in a solution-oriented manner. Everything will be Through the flower and said in a roundabout way to make the other person feel guilty.

Such behavior can quickly become very damaging for the working atmosphere, as anger and anger continue to build up on the most varied of colleagues and the conflicts are never really resolved. you smolder on and on and eventually lead to conflagration.

The more important, Identify passive-aggressive behavior as such - with others and possibly also with yourself - in order to react correctly in the next step.

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You can recognize a passive-aggressive personality by these 8 signs

Depending on the individual situation, each person can from time to time react passively-aggressively. Perhaps you don't have the strength for an open discussion or, for example, you feel inferior to the boss and therefore don't show your anger at first. But it is important that this behavior not to a permanent state becomes. Otherwise, passive aggressiveness can turn into a personality disorder.

Pay attention to the reactions and behaviors in your environment and - even if it is difficult to observe yourself and to question your own actions - also try to understand yourself and the way you deal with problems critical look to see.

These eight signs speak of a passive-aggressive personality:

  1. Passive-aggressive: You deliberately work slowly or poorly

    In every job there are tasks that are less fun or strenuous. You can bite through and do your best to get it done quickly. Passive-aggressive colleagues, however, pursue a different strategy. They take a lot of time and only bring in absolute minimum.

    In doing so, they challenge a good-natured colleague to take on the unpleasant task and, in the future, it is best to transfer it to other hands from the start. No argument, no direct debate - more like one subconscious conditioning.

  2. Passive-aggressive: You like to attack from behind

    If something does not suit you, your opinion will not hold back for long. The big but: the problem will be not between the people involved discussed, but brought up to the entire environment. Passive-aggressive people prefer to complain to every other colleague in the office, which only creates a bad mood.

    Due to the passive approach, those affected can indeed their Get rid of frustration from behind and feel better at first, but create new problems without solving the existing ones in any way.

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  3. Passive-aggressive: You avoid direct confrontation

    As already mentioned, passive-aggressives always avoid direct confrontation. Therefore, even if they feel attacked or injured, they initially withdraw. A common tactic it is also to make the other person feel guilty while withdrawing.

    The other should know that one is with his behavior disagreeing was, even without him being explicitly told. In the best case, the other person apologizes for the mistake that he is accused of unsaid.

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  4. Passive-aggressive: you are planning your revenge

    It would be wrong to believe that passive-aggressive personalities will simply put up with anything. Sometimes it seems like the cause is grass growing first, but as soon as an opportunity presents itself, take advantage of yours Chance to get revenge.

    This also works without open arguments, in that a colleague is discredited by the boss, for example, information is not passed on to everyone involved or tasks are inconspicuously sabotaged and made to fail - the main thing is that perceived injustice is compensated.

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  5. Passive-aggressive: You like to badmouth yourself

    The typical negative attitude of passive aggressiveness is also reflected in the Opinion about yourself. Instead of really trying something and convincing them with the best possible performance, they prefer to speak badly to themselves from the outset. Through this behavior they can maintain the self-image of a misunderstood lone fighter, since others ask them to do tasks that are not solvable for them.

    If the task fails because of a self-fulfilling prophecy in fact, they just feel more validated and immediately know who is to blame.

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  6. Passive-aggressive: You cover up your anger

    Passivity in particular often makes it difficult for outsiders to understand the real thoughts of passive-aggressive people. So it can happen that they look outward for a long time good mine for the bad game while the anger continues to boil up inside - and no one else notices it.

    You can see this particularly clearly in yourself: it is a clear sign of passive-aggressive behavior if your true thoughts and your externally exposed actions regularly do not match.

  7. Passive-aggressive: you forget things on purpose

    have you ever "Accidentally" forgottenthat you actually wanted to meet a friend because you really didn't feel like it? Or have you somehow forgotten about an important deadline for a task that you found useless anyway?

    Then show clear signs of passive-aggressive behavior. Instead of expressing your opinion openly and thus creating an opportunity for discussion, they are looking for one indirect wayto give your opinion.

  8. Passive-aggressive: You are trying to manipulate your environment

    As many of the points already make clear, the behavior of passive-aggressive people is often designed to improve the environment own advantage to manipulate. Those who prefer to ask for help instead of being friendly I'll be sitting on this project all night throws around, tries in a passive way to get colleagues to do some of the work.

    In doing so, however accepted approvinglythat they feel bad or maybe have to work overtime themselves.

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Passive-aggressive test: do you recognize yourself or others?

In addition to these classic behaviors, passive-aggressive people can also be recognized by another indication: Your language usage! Passive-aggressive often do not say what they really mean, but conceal, only address things indirectly or simply use language to put themselves in a better position.

They are there very eloquent, know exactly which linguistic levers they have to use to make others feel guilty or to end up getting what they wanted from the start. For the other side, however, this process is usually very uncomfortable and many suffer from the passive-aggressive nature of people around them.

It is precisely this particular use of language that can make passive-aggressive behavior obvious - both to others and to yourself, if you feel like it Trait are not as aware as others may notice.

We have classic formulations collected, which passive-aggressive people not only have in their vocabulary, but especially like to use it frequently - therefore these sentences also work as a test for passive-aggressive behavior. Do you recognize yourself or others particularly often?

  • "Doesn't matter now ..." The short version: No, it is not and should not be expressed at all. Translated, this sentence could also mean: I don't feel like discussing with you any more, but I will hold on to you for a long time for not agreeing to me.
  • "I didn't mean it that way ..." A nifty phrase to pull yourself out of the affair and skillfully manipulate others. Regardless of whether tasks were assigned or criticism was wrapped in irony, the effect was achieved and if it was not meant that way, there can be no consequences.
  • "You just don't understand ..." A simple but very effective linguistic tool to immediately blame the other person.
  • It turned out really good for your circumstances ... " Tips and insults hidden in ostensible compliments are a popular way of expressing criticism or covertly expressing anger. Actually, such a sentence only means "That's crap, but I didn't expect more from you."
  • "No, it's nothing ..." The classic answer to the question: Do you have something? Passive-aggressive people do not say it openly, but let others feel it all the more.
  • "We'll just do it as you suggested ..." Anyone who thinks here that he has achieved a success and actually prevailed is unfortunately vastly mistaken. Like so many formulations, this one actually means the exact opposite and even if the variant is pursued first, the passive-aggressive is just waiting to find a mistake and yell: I said right away that it can't work ...
  • "I can also take care of it ..." This formulation is particularly popular at the moment when someone else has already started work. A fake one Oh, I could have done that too can completely piss others off.

Passive-aggressive: dealing with passive-aggressive behavior

Realizing that you are passive-aggressive is the first important step. In order to take action against this harmful behavior, one rule applies above all: Align your thoughts and actions. Not only is it exhausting, but it also leads to arguments and problems when you pretend to be something that is not what you really think.

On the other hand, if you notice that, for example, a colleague reacts passively-aggressively, you should also address this. Many go just get over it and try to ignore the behavior. But you are doing yourself a disservice, as it gets more and more exhausting in the long run.

So in conclusion Tips for handling with passive-aggressive behavior:

  1. Talk to it directly

    Does someone always talk around the bush and never give his or her true opinion? Then follow up so that the anger cannot be hidden behind a facade.

  2. Promote self-confidence

    The stronger the self-confidence, the easier it is to openly address problems. Help a passive-aggressive person develop greater self-confidence, for example by giving positive feedback or helping with challenges.

  3. Help in the realization

    Sometimes it can be very difficult to help a passive-aggressive person. This usually feels attacked by this and ignores all good advice. Real improvement is only possible when you realize that your own behavior is harmful.

    Be patient and don't try to force an immediate change. In doing so, you only provoke more defiance. Small steps tend to lead to the goal here.

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January 30, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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