Social Question

JustPlainBarb's avatar

Do you have someone who is passive aggressive in your life?

Asked by JustPlainBarb (4941 points ) December 26th, 2009

I have a hard time dealing with people who are passive aggressive (says they’ll do something with no intention of doing it; conveniently “forgets” to do things; generally appears to comply with things and never follows through for one reason or another). I would prefer they would just be honest about their feelings or intentions to begin with.
Do you know someone like that? How do you handle it?

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38 Answers

Arisztid's avatar

I have many who are not close to me. This is not by my wishing. That sort of thing is annoying to me.

I did have one who was my Lady. She is not anymore. Keysha is one of the least passive aggressive people I have met. Offhand, I cannot think of any passive aggressive behavior she engages in.

If I think that someone is actually going to listen to me, I will point out passive aggressive behavior and that I am not falling for it.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@Arisztid It is a very annoying behavior Aris, I agree. I also agree that letting someone know that you won’t tolerate that kind of behavior is probably the best way to stop them from doing it to you. It is a “control” thing on their part… Thank you.

stouthearted's avatar

Sadly, too many people that I genuinely appreciated as friends began to demonstrate this kind of behaviour over time. The choice that I’ve generally made is either to shift focus from them completely or to give them feedback.

Depending on what kind of investment I have in my relationship to them, I can choose to try to give them an awareness of how they have been putting themselves across to me or accept that they have excessive pride that tends to make it difficult for them to recognize an opportunity to adapt their communication style.

I believe that I do allow people appropriate latitude for genuine self-expression with little to no self-censorship. If people are easily intimidated or are generally more inhibited (less comfortable with being direct) than I am, they do tend to resort to this kind of nonsense.

The most cheerful way of handling it can be to make light of it by indicating in a joking manner that you can see the behaviour for what it is: ‘I know you have no intention of doing this, so let’s not bother doing that waltz with each other. It’s become a very dull tune for me to listen to and if you hadn’t noticed already, I’m telling you directly, that you are stepping on my toes… friend.’

Arisztid's avatar

@JustPlainBarb Sadly letting them know is not going to stop it usually. This behavior is so ingrained that many do not even recognize when they are doing it. Of course some know fully well and do it anyways.

I let them know because I find it an annoying behavior and want them to know 1) what they are doing, 2) I will not fall for it.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@stouthearted That is certainly another good approach to the problem. I think the main thing is just letting them know we won’t play those “games” with them. Thanks!

CaptainHarley's avatar

My number two daughter was, and is, the only passive/agressive person with whom I have ever had to deal. Trying to help raise this young lady was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Every time I would tell her something that I considered to be very important, she would say, “Oh, I know you’re right,” and then go do exactly as she pleased, usuall the diametric opposite of what I had asked! Grrrrr!

Stargater's avatar

I have a couple of friends who are like this and to be honest i don’t deal with it all that well. I who tries very hard to to do everything i say i will who actively dislikes to let people down ie i am coming over on Monday at ten am. I am there on the dot. my friends sometimes never even turn up! excuses are varied but centre around i forgot I always seem to be the one that makes all the effort of going over to theirs. They even forget my Birthday nine times out of ten. Not that i am materialist i’m not bothered about cards or presents for myself i like to give more than recievs but i feel hurt that they couldn’t even ring or text and say Happy Birthday. I have in the past tried to drop hints but i Dislike hurting anybody’s feelings so i usually let the matter drop go home and have a litte cry on my own but then forgive them i can’t hold grudges nomatter how much someone hurts me I have been told time and time again i am too soft.But i am who i am and i let them get away with it so the blame must surely rest purely on my shoulders.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’ve had to work with some of them. Assign small tasks with rigid deadlines. Don’t let them volunteer for anything, it won’t get done.

flameboi's avatar

My alter ego… He is such a bastard…

JesusWasAJewbot's avatar

My father. I no longer speak to him.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Stargater… it’s possible to forgive others for almost anything, and still choose to not to be close friends with them.

AnnieB's avatar

My second husband was like that….I divorced him.

Esteban's avatar

My brother – in – law is PA. He says one thing, never does the other. There are several thousand incidents in the last 30 years of unfulfilled and broken promises. Thinking about this POS angers me and is not good for my soul.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@CaptainHarley Oooo. I know exactly what you mean Capt. It’s maddening for sure!!!
Thanks!!

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@Stargater It’s so frustrating when you try to do the right thing and people don’t share that sense of loyalty or responsiblity towards you. Not a simple thing to deal with at all!!! ((hugs)) to you my friend!! Thanks.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Especially not easy to work with folks like that. They need to be supervised constantly. Thanks.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@JesusWasAJewbot That’s really a shame ..
@AnnieB At least you don’t have to deal with it anymore
@Esteban You have a good point, it’s best not to allow them to aggravate you… not worth it.

Silhouette's avatar

Passive aggressive people are on the top of my people to avoid list. I have an allergic reaction to them. If I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to deal with one, I make it as miserable for them as it is for me. Purposely obtuse makes the passive aggressive person angry and an angry passive aggressive gets a little more direct. You want something from me ask for it. You don’t want to do something, say so. You aren’t going to comply then I expect you to have enough back bone to straight out say so. I’m not trying to change them I’m trying to teach them they are welcome to pull that crap on someone else but I’m not the one.

Esteban's avatar

@justplainbarb With the recent death of my father in law dealing with the POS will be an ongoing matter until the estate is settled.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@esteban First, so sorry to hear about your father in law. Second, I hope things don’t get too difficult with your brother in law.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@Silhouette GA… I agree completely. PA folks are really trying to control everyone else and still keep their “hands clean”. Hopefully, they’ll be less likely to try that behavior with you if you let them know you won’t take it.

Silhouette's avatar

@JustPlainBarb Thanks. They are the worst sort of cowardly bullies. I can barley resist the urge to give them a knuckle sandwich.

Arisztid's avatar

@Silhouette I would reserve the “worst sort of cowardly bullies” award to internet tough guys. They do what they do knowing that the target cannot respond with a knuckle sandwich.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My ex-husband and one of my in-laws

Silhouette's avatar

@Arisztid I don’t put much stock in Internet anything, especially bullies. The Internet is a source of entertainment for me, it’s a world I can control with the push of a button. Knowing that, it’s very hard for me to take Internet tough guys or Internet victims seriously.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir They can be very difficult for sure. Thanks

Supacase's avatar

My mother-in-law. I wish I could decide to simply not deal with her. The most frustrating part is that my husband grew up with it and thinks her behavior is within the norm.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@Supacase That’s my problem too. My husband tends to make excuses for that behavior because he’s seen it all his life. Luckily, we live pretty far away from my in-laws so I don’t get a steady “diet” of that. Best part is that our son is NOT like that at all!!!

Arisztid's avatar

@Silhouette I agree for the most part. When it goes into real life, and it does, that is different. For the most part, though, internet tough guys are the epitome of cowardice and uselessness.

phillis's avatar

I deal with these types of people ad nauseum. They are EVERYWHERE. The more honest you are, the more you recognize these people. It used to bother me beyond the telling of it. As I see it, these people are cheats and liars.

They do this for a variety of reasons, but they are ALWAYS self-serving. My father does it purely for getting approval from his parents (my grandparents). He is 65 years old. He would sell me to hell – and has on countless occasions – just to get their approval, which he so desperately needs. He has never once been able to support himself emotionally. Sometimes I feel pity for him and work on forgiveness, and sometimes I feel nothing but disgust. Forgiveness really is a process.

This is the normal way of doing business for nearly everyone I’ve ever dealt with in a company setting. I don’t understand what is so hard about just being honest and polite, but it seems to mystify the masses. Since I can’t fight it, nor will I ever join them, I’ve learned to see it in a way that gives me understanding; everybody has the right to grow – or not – at their own pace. I am not to interfere with it, nor am I permitted to pass judgement. I must accept people as they are. That is one of MY lessons to learn. It’s in my contract.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@phillis That is a very healthy attitude my friend.
I’m still working on dealing with that behavior though. I too don’t understand why it’s so hard to just be honest upfront… would make life so much easier. But, I guess no one promised it would be easy. I appreciate your insight into this Phillis… very helpful!! Thanks.

phillis's avatar

I can’t pretend to understand it, either, especially when dealing honestly pays of so handsomely in so many categories. But I’ve already learned that lesson and gotten it behind me. I can’t look down my nose at those who don’t, being as how I was there at that point at one time. Not saying that you’re looking down your nose, of course. That’s just my thoughts on it :)

There are our lessons, and then there are other people’s lessons. Our lessons have caused stress and dischord to others, right? I mean shit…...none of us were born with an innate ability to be patient, compromise and share. We had to learn how to do that. Just because we got this lesson down pat, doesn’t mean that other people have. Speaking ONLY for myself, I have enough personal issues to work on that will keep me busy for a lifetime. So I can’t sit in too much judgement of others, lest I become a hypocrite.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

First let’s look at the official (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – Version Four definition of the “Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder”

The DSM-IV Appendix B definition is as follows:

A) A pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicted by four (or more) of the following:

1. passively resists fulfilling routine social and occupational tasks
2. complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others
3. is sullen and argumentative
4. unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority
5. expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate
6. voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune
7. alternates between hostile defiance and contrition

I have, in my clinical work, encountered such people.
I have known a few in my life although I never lived with one!

They can be very frustrating to deal with and very resistant to changing because unfortunately, the behavior pattern allows them to successfully avoid things.

They are typically not happy people and those who are close to them at home or at work are often even more miserable!

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence I agree that people with this type of behavior will often say or do anything to avoid dealing with issues. If they only knew that when they do this… all they’re doing is making more things they have to avoid or ignore and more problems for those around them.
I appreciate your answer very much.

CorwinofAmber's avatar

Patient confidentiality obviates my ability to elabortate; but, yes. ;)

Coloma's avatar

I agree with accepting people as they are, it’s their journey, however…this doesn’t mean I want to deal with duplicity. I am an assertive, open type and cannot tolerate mind games.

I am being given the PA infamous ’ silent treatment’ right now after confronting a ‘friend’ on her manipulative behavior. I was hoping she would take simple responsibility for her inconsiderate actions, but, nope.

I refuse to reward mind games, I simply exit.

My rule these days is that I speak up once, and only once and then I just observe.

Can this person SHOW me they are willing to be held accountable for their behavior or am I witnessing the usual litany of excuses, denial and feigned innocence?

My ex husband was highly PA and it was a horrible communication match, with me being the pro-active, take the bull by the horns and lets resolve the issues NOW, vs. the head in the sand stratagy. Gah!

I just came into full awareness of this persons PA tendancies recently and was rather suprised to connect the dots becuase her manipulative behaviors are different from my ex’s, but, oh man…..it’s all there! lol

Maddening style of non-communication.

Honestly, if ever I was to commit murder it would be a passive aggressive that pushed me over the edge. haha

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I was married to such a person for many years.

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