Are You Passive Aggressive?

"I am not passive aggressive.  Unlike some people I know."

What Is Passive Aggressive?

Passive aggressive is a behavior that strives to resist the demands of others and direct confrontation. For example, if a passive aggressive person doesn’t want to participate in a meeting, they might pretend they didn’t get the memo about the meeting or intentionally misplace the meeting notes so the meeting needs to be rescheduled. They can’t say “I don’t want to go to the meeting,” and they’re not willing to just go and keep their opinion to themselves, so they sabotage the meeting so it doesn’t happen.


This happens in communications as well. Here are some examples of passive aggressive behaviors and statements. If you recognize yourself in more than a few of these, you’re probably passive aggressive.

Putting Someone on the Defensive – If you say, “Why on earth would you wear that?” that’s a passive aggressive statement. You’re putting the other person on the defensive. Your other choices are to stay quiet or to let the person know that you don’t like what they’re wearing. Instead, a passive aggressive person subtly attacks.

Insinuating Yourself into Situations – Do you ever find yourself saying “I wish I had…” or “I wish I was invited to…” when you know that the person you’re talking to is in a position to grant your wish? This is passive aggressive behavior. A more straightforward approach might be to say, “Hey, do you think you could get me invited to…”

Insincere compliments - Classic passive aggressive behavior includes compliments that aren’t really compliments. For example, if your best friend buys a home and invites you over for a housewarming party and you say, “what a great little starter house,” that’s a compliment that actually belittles their new home. It’d be better to find something that you really like about the home or to simply congratulate your friend on their new home.

Sabotage, keeping score, and other indirect behaviors are also signs of a passive aggressive personality. Everyone has moments. Strive to be more sincere about what you say and be aware of the reasons why you may be passive aggressive. Are you afraid of confrontation? Do you want to express your needs or your opinion but you’re not comfortable? Start small and begin saying what you mean.