5 signs that you're a victim of passive aggressive behaviour

Passive aggressive behaviour can be extremely confusing and frustrating to encounter.

Passive aggressive behaviour is usually difficult to recognise at first, says trauma psychotherapist Louisa Niehaus.

Someone on the receiving end of passive aggression is often left feeling rage, anger, confusion and hopelessness, Niehaus says.

She describes passive aggressive behaviour as negativity and anger that has been sugar-coated and shown in a subversive manner.

Niehaus explains that this behaviour is linked to bullying, power dynamics, and narcissism.

She explains that most passive aggressive people are not taught emotional management and assertiveness. As a result, they use silence, sulking and other manipulative behaviours when interacting with others.

Here are some examples of passive aggressive behaviour (in the workplace and beyond):

  • consistently late for meetings, deadlines and other appointments
  • leaving things undone and dropping tasks at the very end
  • non-compliments
  • silent treatment
  • wistful wishing

Niehaus advises that victims of passive aggressive behaviour must always remain assertive, clear and concise about what they need from the other person.

It's nuanced and very difficult to understand.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

Passive aggressive people will say things like 'I thought you knew' and 'I didn't know you wanted that now'.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

They manipulate you into feeling angry because they can't own their anger.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

If you're the one left carrying the can, you are the victim of passive aggressive behaviour.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

You get so many mixed messages and you feel confused. In the end, you feel guilty and responsible.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

The best way to deal with passive aggressive people is to remain clear. Confront the behaviour in an open and concise manner.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

You have to model the correct behaviour with passive aggressive people. You have to set the tone.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

Take a listen to her expert insights:


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