Excel At Life logo


PsychArticles button PsychNotes button PsychApps button PsychAudios button PsychTests button About button
Support Excel At Life's Mission!
Help Translate
Spread the Word
Make Contribution
Become a fan on Facebook! Follow on twitter for site updates! Follow on Google+ for site updates!
Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career











Sport Psych


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


Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

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



Previous        Next

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

Boyfriend Gets Defensive

Question:I asked my boyfriend when was he planning on leaving the transitional house he's been in for 8 years. He starts asking what would be the benefit of leaving? The conversation then starts to escalate. I'm trying to explain the benefit of leaving...which is a no brainer. Then he starts to yell. I tell him to lower his voice which meant that I was yelling as well. He then says "You're yelling louder than me" and how could he get a word in when I'm talking over him? Then he storms out. The conversation did not get resolved.

Response: Although I think this writer is complaining about her boyfriend's passive-aggressive (PA) behavior, this is a good example of how PA behavior can create PA behavior in the other person. If we examine her description of the event, we can see how her initial PA behavior caused this situation to devolve into an argument rather than create a productive discussion.

Let's look at this more closely. Why am I saying her behavior is PA? When she says the benefit of leaving is a "no brainer" she is indicating she only wants one answer. She doesn't really want to have a discussion about him moving. She just wants him to do what she wants. Additionally, this indicates that she is angry with him about this issue but rather than expressing her anger appropriately it comes across as a controlling type of PA behavior. I don't know exactly what she said to him but he obviously got this message from her in some way: "I don't care about your reasons for staying, I just want you to move."

> So, how can this interaction be changed? Fortunately, this is under her control because she can change her PA behavior. Instead of discussing the "benefits" of him moving, she can express how she feels. For instance, she can say "I feel frustrated because I don't understand why you won't move." By making this an "I" statement she is owning her feelings rather than making accusations about him. "You" statements such as "you should move because..." only cause the other person to become defensive which then is likely to escalate the disagreement.

The second step is instead of telling him what she thinks, she should listen, listen, listen! He apparently has some thoughts on the subject but she is "talking over him." He doesn't feel heard. Certainly, this may not get her what she wants. She may not be able to control the outcome of his decision. However, it is more likely to lead to a better relationship because it allows for greater communication. Most likely, she believes that she IS communicating because she is telling him what she thinks. However, communication also involves active listening.

What is "active" listening? It means not just waiting for the other person to finish so that you can say what you think and get him to agree with you. It means to truly listen, ask questions, and express in your own words what you think the other person is saying. "What I understand that you are saying is that you don't want to move right now because you think..." This allows the other person to more thoroughly explain his position or to correct any misunderstandings. This is what true communication is all about.

Previous        Next Example


Questions and Comments

All comments and questions require approval so you may not see your submission immediately.

Provide Example of Passive-Aggressive Behavior.  Any comments or information you share may be used for future articles.  However, identifying information will not be used:

Message.  Provide an example of a passive-aggressive encounter you have had so suggestions can be provided on this site regarding how to handle such situations.

Enter email address (optional).
Your email address will not be shared or used in any way other than how you specify:

Become a fan on Facebook! Follow on twitter for site updates! Follow on Google+ for site updates!