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7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People
Method 4. The broken record technique
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Methods to Use With Passive-aggressive People

Method 4. The broken record technique

The broken record technique is a method of assertion that can be used to confront behavior or a harangue (excessive critique). For those of you too young to remember broken records, this technique refers to when a record (a vinyl album used to play music prior to CDs, MP3 players, and smartphones) was scratched, it might keep playing the same phrase over and over.

When PA people are criticizing an aspect of your behavior they want to put you on the defensive and cause you distress. The purpose of the broken record technique is to stop the cycle and not get drawn into the argument. Once you have responded, continue to repeat your main points no matter how the person tries to deflect, accuse, or otherwise distort the situation.

“I told you that was hurtful. Please don't say it again.”

“You're too sensitive.”

“I said it was hurtful. Don't say it again.”

“I didn't mean it that way.”

“It is hurtful. Don't say it again.”

The broken record technique usually ends with the other person giving up. In fact, if you think about it this is often a technique used by PA people themselves to get you to give up on your confrontation.

Next: Learn how to use direct confrontation with a PA person effectively.