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Crazy-Makers: Dealing With Passive-Aggressive People
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

RETURN TO MAIN ARTICLE

CONTROLLING EXAMPLES

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.

An adolescent trying to control a parent's emotional responses:

Mother: Hurry up. We're going to be late for school.

Daughter ignores the demand and obviously slows down her movements.

Mother: Stop trying to irritate me! We need to leave soon.

Daughter: I'm not doing anything.

Mother: I can see you slowing down when I tell you to hurry.

Daughter: You're imagining that. All you want to do is yell at me.

Mother: I've had it with you! You are such a brat!

Daughter (crying now): See, all you do is yell at me and call me names!

In this scenario the daughter is in control and has caused her mother to lose control. Instead of trying to control the daughter (which ultimately allows the daughter control over her) she should determine natural or logical consequences for the behavior and allow the daughter to have to deal with the consequences. For instance, some schools give detentions if a child is late for class in which case the mother doesn't need to do anything. In fact, it's best in the case of the natural consequences to just ignore the child's passive-aggressive behavior (slowing down) and just let the consequences occur with no comment. Not even "I told you."

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