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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

All Audio Articles

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

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

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

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

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

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

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

All Audio Articles


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


This needs to be the subject of a separate article. In fact, what I would like to do is to use some real-life examples that people submit and discuss them in detail in another article. So, if you have an example, please submit it on the form below by describing the situation in detail, your relationship with the person, and the specifics of what was said and how it was said.

Although each situation may vary, there are some basic steps you can take with passive-aggressive behavior.

1) Identify the reward.
Determine what the passive-aggressive person achieves by engaging in the behavior. Do they get something they want? Do they make you feel bad? Do they discharge their anger on to you so they can feel better? Do they escalate conflict so they can make you look bad?

2) Refuse to provide the reward.
If you refuse to provide
the reward, they are no longer in control of the interaction which tends to cause the situation to backfire on them. For instance, when the co-worker I described earlier would give me a back-handed compliment I would effusively respond "Oh, that's so nice of you to say that! I really appreciate it!" as if it were a true compliment. This would have the effect of making her believe that she had not accomplished her purpose (which she hadn't anyway because I was thinking "How silly of a grown adult to act this way") which tended to reduce the behavior because she was getting her reward of feeling better at my expense.

If you determine that the individual is trying to escalate conflict, then you want to become even more calm almost to an extreme. The more calm you become, the more apparent and ridiculous their behavior will appear. Plus, you are not allowing them to get the reward of freely discharging their anger on to you. What I mean is that if you allow the situation to escalate, they will then engage in a full battle while blaming you for "starting" the argument.

3) Indirectly confront.
Obviously, as I described above, if you directly confront the passive-aggressive person is likely to turn it against you. But if you confront with "I" statements instead of "you" statements and remain very calm you may be able to reduce the behavior. Although you are unlikely to get them to admit they were wrong, since they do not like to take responsibility, they are more likely to reduce the behavior if they know they will be confronted every time.

The following example uses the broken-record technique in which you repeatedly make your point of letting them know how you feel when they act in a passive-aggressive manner.

"You need to be careful what you're eating. You're getting fat."

"I feel hurt when you call me fat."

"I'm just saying that because I'm concerned about you."

"But I feel hurt when you call me that."

"You're just too sensitive!"

"That may be, but I'm letting you know that I feel hurt when you call me names." This statement uses the technique of agreeing with them but still using the broken record to make your point.

"You need to just get over it."

"Since I've told you that I feel hurt when you call me names should I assume that you are trying to hurt me when you call me names?" This last line should not be uttered unless the passive-aggressive person persists.


When you start changing a behavior pattern in which you've engaged with someone for a period of time, sometimes you may see the behavior get worse. Although
sometimes this is because you are still learning and needing more practice, many times it occurs because the person will try to escalate the behavior in order to obtain their reward. It is much different from trying to change a child's temper tantrums. If you have been rewarding the child by trying to quiet her with a piece of candy whenever she has a temper tantrum and then you decided to stop doing that, you will initially see an increase in the temper tantrums. However, if you remain firm and consistent, eventually they will decrease.

It will take time to learn to handle passive-aggressive people, however, it will be well worth the effort. When I'm working with clients frequently it will take a number of tries and adjustments in our approach but if we examine the behavior and the reward process we can usually find a method that can work.

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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