Years ago I worked for the most passive, aggressive person I’ve ever met. I’m not kidding you – it was like a real-life version of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Needless to say, I quit as soon as I got something else, but the experience still haunts me. Why? Because I never did anything about it. I just let her treat me the way she did until I was finally so fed up that I walked out and never went back. Here’s how you can deal with this kind of person in your life without feeling the way I did.
1. Try Not to Take Things Personally
I know this is way easier said than done because a passive aggressive person probably acts pleasant to your face, but says nasty things about you when you aren’t around. Or they’ll send someone else to tell you how they truly feel. Let this all roll off your back. It’s hard, but you need to remind yourself that this kind of behavior has nothing to do with you – you’re just getting the brunt of that person’s anger and unhappiness.
2. Stay Calm when You’re Interacting with the Person
Your natural defense will be to get upset and go on the defensive. That’s what a passive aggressive person wants. Instead, control your responses by staying calm and using a kind, neutral tone of voice. If you keep your reaction from spiraling out of control, you have the power.
3. Try to Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
This can really be hard when you are dealing with a passive aggressive person, but empathizing with that person can get you in their good graces and make your interactions more positive and less tense all around. Give voice to the other person’s emotions and help them own how they feel so you don’t become the target of their negative feelings.
4. Set Clear Limits and Stick to Them in All Situations
As the person dealing with passive aggression, you must decide what you are willing to deal with and what is a deal breaker. Then, clearly outline your boundaries and let the person in on them. Then, anytime the situation arises, stick to your guns. For example, maybe your plan of attack is to walk away anytime sarcasm is used against you.
5. Be Very Specific when You Interact with a Passive Aggressive Person
Getting very specific is going to serve you well when in talk to a person like this. Tell the person the specific action or comment that you are having trouble with so that they know exactly what you upset about. This is the only way you can work out the issues you are having with this person so that you can find a resolution.
6. Learn to Recognize Passive Aggressive Behaviors so You Know when to Get Your Game Face on
Once you know when a passive aggressive person is acting out, you can step up to the plate with your reaction. Some of the most common behaviors to be on the lookout for include sarcasm, ignoring you if they are upset with you, procrastination, showing up late to everything, hostility, complaints about the world being out to get them and being resentful of other people’s requests.
7. Forget about Offering Suggestions and Ideas Because They Won’t Be Listened to
Someone who is passive aggressive is resistant to taking responsibility for their own unhappiness. Instead, they blame it on anything and everything around them. But, forget offering advice and suggestions. This will make the person resentful and, even if they seem open to your ideas, they won’t take the initiative to carry them out. Be empathetic if you can, but don’t get yourself too immersed in the drama.
Writing this brings back some unpleasant memories for me. Have you ever dealt with a passive aggressive person? What other ideas can you add to the list?