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7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People
Method 5. Direct confrontation
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Read the following to:
  • Learn how to use direct confrontation with a PA person effectively.
Related articles by Dr. Frank:

Previous: Learn about how the broken record method stops the PA harangue and hurtful behavior.

Next: Learn how to create consequences for PA behavior.

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

Methods to Use With Passive-aggressive People

Method 5. Direct confrontation

Sometimes you might decide that the best way of handling PA behavior is to directly confront. This is especially true when you know that the behavior is intentionally hurtful.

It is especially important that any confrontation needs to follow the previous stated rules particularly remaining calm, being assertive, and choosing your words carefully. For instance, “I feel insulted (hurt). Is that your intention?” can be effective for a variety of PA comments that are hurtful or insulting.

Keep in mind that most PA people are good at evading or misdirecting a direct confrontation, so you need to be prepared to make your point no matter how they respond. If you let them control the situation, you are likely to fall into their trap of escalating the situation and you looking like the instigator because you caused the conflict by confronting.

Reader's Example: Controlling by Refusing to Discuss Problems

Question: Any time I want to calmly discuss a situation that is bothering me in our relationship, my husband's reply is always "I don't want to fight about this!" Although I tell him that I'm not trying to fight, I just want to talk about it, he never has the discussion with me and the problems are always left unresolved.

Next: Learn how to create consequences for PA behavior.