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Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

When You Have Been Betrayed

Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

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Audio Version of Article: Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

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CRAZY-MAKERS: PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PEOPLE (page 2)


by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Tap to Listen to Article

WHAT IS PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR?

Passive-aggressive communication seeks to control the emotions of others and thereby, control their behavior. Typically, this communication style seeks to express anger in an indirect manner. By doing so the individual is able to deny all responsibility for the anger yet they score a direct hit on their target. A common example is criticizing as if you are concerned, "You've put on so much weight! You might get diabetes or heart disease if you don't take it easy with the sweets." Certainly, in the right context this could actually be an expression of concern. However, the right context doesn't include making such a statement in front of others just as the individual is taking a bite of dessert. In this instance, if the comment is confronted, the person will often deny responsibility by stating something like, "I'm just concerned about you. Wow, are you sensitive!"

The best way to recognize passive-aggressive behavior is by analyzing the process and purpose of the behavior. Typically, as the purpose is to control and/or deflect responsibility for anger, the passive-aggressive behavior causes frustration or anger in the recipient and will escalate conflict unless the recipient handles it passively by swallowing, ignoring, or discounting their anger. Yet, if the purpose is to escalate conflict, the passive-aggressive behavior is calculated to cause the recipient to act unreasonably.

For example, a father conveys the subtle message of "I don't think you're capable" by taking on a task to do it right, "Here, let me help you cut that out" as he takes over the child's school project. When the child states "I can do it myself" the father keeps working on the project "I know you can. I'm just helping. Now doesn't that look better?" If the child should protest angrily, "You don't think I can do it right!" the father might respond "Of course I do. I was just helping. You are so ungrateful!"

In this situation, the father has escalated the situation to cause the child to become angry and then to criticize the child for being angry. This teaches the child that her emotions are unacceptable as well as that her father doesn't believe she is capable. Over time the child learns to not trust her own perceptions of reality.

Another common example may be when a couple are trying to make a simple decision such as where to go for dinner. The wife says, "I don't care" but then pouts when her husband decides. When her husband asks her what is wrong she responds "You know I don't like Chinese." Later on in a completely unrelated situation, she may even take this a step further "You make all the decisions and don't take my preferences into account!" This can become even more ugly if the wife should accuse the husband of deliberately mistreating her "You do whatever you want. You don't care about my feelings!"

This example shows how a simple situation can escalate to include many different situations. The passive-aggressive wife can angrily attack her husband while blaming him for the attack. He becomes confused and angry "You're crazy!" which allows his wife to prove her point "See how you treat me? Calling me names and putting me down!" READ MORE: page 3

Introduction--page 1

What is passive-aggressive behavior?--page 2

Catagories of passive-aggressive people.--page 3<

Types of passive-aggressive behavior.--page 4

How do you handle passive-aggressive people?--page 5

"By better understanding how conflict and anger arise, and practicing handling such conflict in an assertive way, it can become far less intimidating and be an aspect of work you can learn to manage rather than have it manage you."

CONFLICT IN THE WORKPLACE?

By Brett Hart, Ph.D.
One rarely sees David and Susan more than a few feet from each other at work. The thought of Susan increases David’s heart rate, while Susan’s thoughts do likewise every time David is near. The way they look into one another’s eyes tells their co-workers, “You don’t really belong here.” Even their boss feels a bit awkward when the heat between them borders on the inappropriate.

A passionate relationship beginning to bloom? No. David and Susan are two co-workers locked in what seems to be an incurable conflict at work. Their situation illustrates how conflict can affect us at our job. Conflict may not only take a toll on our physical body (as it did on David’s racing heart), but it often occupies our thoughts and causes us a great deal of emotional distress. As we saw in the situation with David and Susan, conflictual behavior impacts not only those involved in the conflict, but also those who have no part in it. As most of us spend approximately one-third of our adult lives in the workplace, conflict in this setting can’t be easily dismissed as unimportant. In fact, failing to address such conflict may have implications for our “non-working” lives. As a result, it becomes important for each of us to understand how conflict arises in the workplace, and what steps we can take to deal with such conflict.


Introduction.--page 1

What causes conflict at work?--page 2

Understanding and handling anger in the workplace.--page 3