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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


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How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

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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

Passive-Aggressive Example: Sarcastic Ex


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The following is an example from website readers of passive-aggressive encounters they have experienced. Keep in mind that the suggested responses are not personal advice as a full evaluation of the situation is not available. As such, the suggestions may not work in every situation but are to give you an idea of possible ways to respond. Read: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People
Question:I wrote a Facebook status about my part time job (cashier, retail), how I spent the day making bouquets, how fun it was and maybe I should change my part time work to Florist. I also hold a B.A. in Graphic Design and am currently in training for web design for my career. An ex who used to mock me for not finding something in my field immediately after graduation commented on my status with "I think Florist goes quite well with your degree..." When I called him out on how rude his statement was he flipped it around saying he was trying to be nice and actually serious and that I was being "so dramatic and overreacting." It made me question how I felt for a second but friends and family members with no insight to the situation fully agreed that when they saw the comment they took it as dripping with sarcasm and rude. Needless to say I messaged him directly confronting the issue. Then when he continued to place blame on me and spew more hurtful words I removed him from Facebook.

Response: This is a good example of how effective sarcastic passive-aggressive (PA) comments can be especially when there is no "sarcastic tone" as in a Facebook post or email. Although we can't be absolutely sure this comment was PA sarcasm, given the past history specifically regarding this issue it is likely that it was.

However, this is also a good example of why it doesn't matter if it is PA or not because the response could still be the same. As I've discussed before, what is the goal of the PA person? The goal is to upset you by making you mad, feel bad or crazy, or doubt yourself while being able to deny responsibility. In this instance, the PA person was successful because he created distress and conflict which he was then able to blame on her. He achieved his goal! However, in this situation she was able to satisfactorily resolve it by blocking him from Facebook so she doesn't have to continue to deal with the PA behavior and blame.

> But what about a situation where you can't do that? When you have to deal with a person on a regular basis? The best type of response to such ambiguous sarcasm is one that doesn't allow the PA person to achieve his goal. When you prevent the PA person from achieving their goal, they are the one experiencing frustration rather than you. It even allows you a little PA satisfaction that you were able to turn the behavior back on them!

So, what type of response prevents the PA person in this situation from achieving his goal? Either no response or a "thank you." The no response is simple enough to do on a Facebook post. However, if this situation was more direct, a "Thank you. I think so, too" would prevent him from achieving his goal of making her feel bad and then being able to blame her. In addition, if he was actually trying to be nice, this response prevents her from appearing as if she is overreacting.

I especially like the "thank you" because it is particularly frustrating for a PA person to think that not only did he not achieve his goal but she took it as compliment. There really is no way out for him in this situation because he can't come back and say "I meant that sarcastically" without looking like the bad guy. If you continue to respond in this way to a PA person, it is likely they will discontinue the sarcasm because it not only is ineffective but it is frustrating for them.

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