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Passive-Aggressive Example
Screaming and Calling Names is Aggressive, Not Passive-Aggressive

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The following is an example from website readers of passive-aggressive encounters they have experienced. The suggested responses are not personal advice as a full evaluation of the situation is not available. Also, the suggestions may not work in every situation but are to give you an idea of possible ways to respond. For more, read: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People and 7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Question: How do I respond or defuse the argument when the person won't give me a minute to speak I can't get a single word in edge ways. The PA won't stop screaming and calling me names even though I asked her to give me a moment to respond. No matter how calm I stay she will not stop until I run away from her and leave the premises or if I am on the phone with her I have to put the phone down and unplug or switch off so she can stop calling and screaming at me. Please help, thank you.

Response: The problem is that you have identified this behavior as passive-aggressive (PA) and are trying to use methods for PA behavior. Maybe this person is PA in other ways but screaming at you and calling you names is aggressive behavior, not PA behavior. Many people think that aggressive behavior is physical. However, it can also be verbal. In this case, the person is verbally abusive.

Your question indicates that you are trying to use reason to manage an aggressive person. However, often that cannot be done especially if the person won't listen to reason. Although you are asking for an alternative solution, the most important thing is to protect yourself from aggressive behavior. So you are doing the right thing by leaving the situation or hanging up the phone.

However, I assume that you have an ongoing relationship with this person and are looking for a solution so that she would be more responsive and less hostile. Unfortunately, that requires her cooperation and willingness to make changes.

It is possible that your method could have some effect if you do it immediately and every time. So rather than trying to reason with her, hang up or leave at the first sign of her aggression. Use the same statement every time you leave or hang up so that eventually she may hear it and come to realize that she can only have a relationship with you if she stops screaming and calling you names. For instance, "We can visit later when you calm down" or "I won't tolerate you screaming and calling me names." Don't worry about whether she hears you, but take immediate action.

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