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Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

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

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

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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Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


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Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

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The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

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A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

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Riding a Horse Across the Plains

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Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

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Cloud Castles for Children

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


As you see from some of the previous examples, passive-aggressive behavior is manifested in many ways. Although the bottom line in identifying the behavior is that it succeeds in indirectly expressing anger; the passive-aggressive individual does not have to take responsibility for the controlling behavior and angry message. However, we can divide the behaviors into several common categories as described below. Obviously, you will see that these behaviors often overlap so more than one may occur in a situation.

Denial. This type of passive-aggressive behavior occurs when the individual appears to be distressed, frustrated, bored, confused, or any number of emotions but when questioned refuses to admit to the feeling. They may outright deny or they may avoid by ignoring, working, or deflecting with humor. However, the behavior has the outcome of frustrating the recipient because they are unable to confront and resolve the problem. Thus, this individual is able to control the other by not engaging in conflict resolution when an obvious problem has occurred.

Blaming. The skilled passive-aggressive blamer can rephrase almost any comment to make it appear the recipient's fault. "You should have known!" or "You're too sensitive!" are common methods of blaming the victim. Sometimes it can be so extreme as to border on the ridiculous if it wasn't so hurtful; for example, "You know I'm a grouch before dinner. I wouldn't have yelled at you if you wouldn't have asked me a question." This person deflects all attempts to communicate about problems by blaming the other person.

Revenge-Seeking. This behavior is calculated to try to hurt the other person without taking responsibility. An example of this is described above with the "back-handed compliment." The individual somehow is threatened by the other, whether real or imagined, and seeks revenge in an underhanded manner. By doing so, they can claim ignorance if confronted such as "I had no idea you would take it that way" or resort to blaming "You must be imagining that. I would never do anything to hurt you."

Controlling. This behavior seeks to control the individual in an indirect manner. For instance, a man who emotionally abuses his partner says "No one could ever love you the way I do" with the intended result being insecurity in the woman so that she won't leave him. Another example is parents telling their adult children that they should respect or love them because they are their parents thus trying to control their behavior. Love and respect is something that occurs due to the underlying relationship not because of a demand.

Guilting. This behavior controls through using guilt either directly or indirectly to control the other. An indirect form of guilt may be "Don't worry about me...I'll be okay" followed by a sigh. A more direct form may be describing all the efforts made on your behalf followed by an expectation "I've only cleaned the house today, taken the kids to their activities, checked on your mom. Taking me out to dinner isn't too much to ask, is it?"

Sarcastic. Many of the examples above contain sarcasm probably because it tends to be a favorite of mine. Sarcastic passive-aggressive comments are the ultimate indirect form of aggression because they are calculated to avoid responsibility such as "You know I was just kidding." Yet, they have the impact of controlling the other person's emotions and potentially their thinking and behavior.

Back-stabbing. This behavior often uses techniques such as hitting below the belt by using previously confided or sensitive information against the person or by communicating through someone else but with plausible deniability. This individual may even resort to showing artificial concern as a way of validating their behavior "You know I wouldn't want to hurt you but I'm only saying this because I'm concerned about you."

As you can see with the examples in this article, many times the actual words that the passive-aggressive person uses may seem reasonable or even caring. Therefore, to determine passive-aggressive behavior, the context, the relationship, previous experiences with the individual, and the non-verbal communication needs to be considered. However, without even considering all of these factors, you usually know that you are the recipient of passive-aggressive behavior by your own emotional reaction. If you feel frustrated, deflated, or crazy as a result of an interaction, it probably was passive-aggressive. READ MORE: page 5

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."


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

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