Eliminating Passive Aggressiveness

What is passive aggressiveness?
What are the typical reactions to my passive aggressiveness?
What irrational thinking keeps me being passive aggressive when I disagree with others?
How can I recognize when someone is being passive aggressive with me?
How can I confront a passive aggressive person?
If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?
Why is it useful to eliminate my acting passive aggressive?
Steps to eliminating being passive aggressive

What is passive aggressiveness?
I act in a passive aggressive way when I:
* hide my hostility by seeming to be nice to someone I dislike, and am unable to be honest with the person.
* say I agree with something but don’t follow through because I really don’t agree with it.
* act opposite to what others are expecting.
* quietly manipulate to get my own way after voicing a completely different opinion, just to keep the peace.
* seek revenge by agreeing and looking “good,” but never following through on my promises.
* tell people what they want to hear, even if I don’t believe in what I am saying.
* try to please people by agreeing to their plan of action, yet actually doing the opposite.
* act one way, which is true to my inner feelings, yet say another.
* am out of touch with my inner feelings; the only way to know how I feel about something is to observe my behavior, don’t trust my words.
* hate something or someone but am afraid of letting my true feelings show.
* feel pressured to act or believe in a certain way when I really don’t want to.
* avoid conflict at all cost by giving in to others, then procrastinate and never do what I agreed to do.
* am angry but afraid to show my anger, so I quietly take my revenge by doing the opposite.

What are the typical reactions to my passive aggressiveness?
When people recognize my passive aggressiveness they:
* are surprised.
* get disappointed.
* get angry.
* are confused by my behavior.
* confront me on my actions.
* realize that I lied to them.
* get frustrated by the inconsistency in my behavior.
* begin to do battle with me, resulting in a conflict greater than the one I originally tried to avoid.
* get upset and fly into a rage and this damages the relationship.
* no longer trust me.
* resent me for being dishonest.
* act in a similar way with me and our communication winds up at a standstill where neither of us “wins.”
* feel challenged by me and in their competitive reaction become more adamant in seeking to achieve what I had originally verbally agreed to with them.

What irrational thinking keeps me being passive aggressive when I disagree with others?
* I must avoid an argument, fight or conflict at all costs.
* I never “win” in confrontation.
* There is no use in opposing them, they are much more powerful than I am.
* I must please people by telling them what they want to hear.
* I never get anywhere by showing my anger openly.
* It’s bad to get angry.
* No one wants to know how I feel.
* No one will understand how I feel.
* My problems are unique; I need to hide them since no one would understand.
* I am a loser and failure anyway; why try to defend my position?
* I will never “win” in this situation; why try?
* I enjoy seeing people get blown away by my agreeing with them and then my doing the opposite of what I agreed to do.
* I’d rather back down right away to minimize the damages a fight could bring rather than tell people how I really feel about things.
* It’s so hard to be honest with people about how I feel when what I feel is counter to what they want me to feel.
* It’s important for people to like and accept me and I say anything just so long as they like me.
* It’s not what I do or how I act that is important to people, it is what I say that influences them.
* People will never know I’m angry and disagree with them.
* I hide my feelings well from others.
* Feelings don’t count. It is better to deny my feelings than upset another person I am in disagreement with.
* I’d rather lie than get into an argument with someone.
* If I lie about how I feel, others will never know the truth.

How can I recognize when someone is being passive aggressive with me?
I can tell that people are being passive aggressive with me when they:
* always agree with my point of view, even when I am being narrow minded or blind to other alternatives.
* never disagree or argue with my point of view.
* take every opportunity to “put me down” in a humorous or sarcastic way.
* never confront me with their negative feelings.
* avoid discussions about unpleasant topics.
* are always cheerful and upbeat to my face; yet I hear from others how negative they are about me behind my back.
* “yes” me constantly, never disagreeing with anything I say.
* consistently do the opposite of what I thought they agreed to do.
* withdraw or pull away from me whenever I confront them with my anger or negative feelings about them.
* deny that they have any problems with our relationship.
* talk about others in a negative or disparaging way, yet are nice and friendly to their faces.
* demonstrate behavior inconsistent with their words.
* make me feel foolish for expecting one thing from them when they deliver the opposite.
* make me believe I can count on them to do something for me but they never follow through.
* talk with fantasy and magical thinking about how they are going to change, yet the change never occurs.
* show a consistent pattern of exerting no effort toward improving our relationship.
* talk or act irrationally in dealing with a problem, as if it were very easy to overcome and correct.
* minimize the extent of the problems facing us in our relationship.
* tend to patronize me and try to make me believe that I am just imagining problems between us.
* continue to deny that a problem exists when all the evidence points to the opposite.

How can I confront a passive aggressive person?
If others are being passive aggressive with me I can:
* point out the behavior that indicates passive aggressiveness on their part.
* point out the inconsistency between their words and actions.
* pay attention to their actions rather than their words, then give them feedback as to what their actions tell me about their feelings.
* ask for their true feelings reassuring them that there are no right or wrong feelings, and that it is OK to share negative feelings.
* ask them what has them so intimidated that they fear sharing their feelings with me.
* reassure them that we can reach a “win-win” solution in our communication if we are willing to compromise.
* defuse the competition in our relationship. It doesn’t matter “what” we are discussing as long as we respect how each of us “feels” about what we are discussing.
* remain open to any negative feelings they have and let them know this.
* begin to trust what they “do” rather than what they “say” and let them know that I am doing this.
* make myself more accessible to them.
* help them lessen their fear of rejection from me by reassuring them that I really do care.

If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?
To avoid being passive aggressive with others, I can:
* try to be assertive, open and honest with my negative feelings or anger.
* warn people to “read” my behavior rather than my words if they want to know my feelings.
* confront myself with my inconsistent behavior and challenge myself to explain it.
* take the risk to confront my anger assertively and “on the spot” so that I can bring my behavior in line with my feelings.
* work at making my behavior consistent with my feelings.
* change the way I interact with people and make my relationships more honest.
* admit that I have been a liar.
* work at being more honest with people even if it results in a conflict.
* identify the irrational thinking that prevents me from confronting people when I am angry.
* learn how to become assertive with my negative feelings.
* accept that it is OK to have conflict and disagreement.
* learn to compromise and come to a “win-win” solution.

Why is it useful to eliminate my acting passive aggressive?
By eliminating passive aggressiveness when I am angry, I could:
* have deeper, more honest and longer-lasting relationships.
* feel less stress, anxiety and depression in my dealings with others.
* learn to be clear and consistent about my feelings.
* reassure others that they will no longer have to guess how I “really feel.”
* stop resorting to lies about my feelings.
* develop self-respect, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
* have more energy because I would no longer be defending myself from powerful, intimidating people.
* have clarity of focus and purpose, working on the things I want rather than what others want for me.
* have fewer people venting their rage on me.
* experience a sense of harmony in my life.

Steps to eliminating being passive aggressive
Step 1: First, I must begin to recognize this behavior when it occurs. To do this, I will answer the following questions in my journal:
A. What is my usual response when I disagree with someone who intimidates me?
B. How do I feel when I am angry or upset with someone who intimidates me?
C. How often do I agree with these people rather than confront them just to avoid conflict?
D. What benefits do I derive by avoiding confrontation?
E. What are my feelings after I have backed down from someone who intimidates me?
F. From whom have I backed down? How successful was this? How often did I go ahead with what I had planned, ignoring what these people wanted me to do? What usually resulted from my failure to follow through with my part of the plan?
G. What do I do now after I’ve backed down from a disagreement? Am I still passive aggressive? How can I tell? What are the results? How often does this happen?
H. Under what circumstances do I resort to passive aggressiveness?
I. What is involved in these situations? Why do I resort to passive aggressiveness?
J. What are the negative results of my passive aggressiveness?

Step 2: If I find that I am resorting to passive aggressiveness, then I need help to recognize the negative impact it has in my life. To do this I will record the following exercise in my journal.
My Passive Aggressive Ways
Write a story about five separate incidents during which I acted passive aggressive. In each story, detail:
* When it happened.
* With whom it happened.
* What I was angry about or over what we disagreed.
* Why I was intimidated.
* What I did later to show I was being passive aggressive.
* The reasons I acted the way I did.
* How others reacted to my passive aggressive behaviors.
* How others confronted me on how I was acting.
* What they told me about my behavior and how they felt about it.
* The final outcome of the situation.

Step 3: I am now ready to confront my past passive aggressiveness and ways I could change it. Complete the following exercise:
The Other Side of the Story
Write a sequel to each of the five stories from Step 2. In each sequel include:
* What I did differently when I first recognized that I was angry or had negative feelings.
* How I honestly confronted my feelings as being different from my behavior.
* How I made sure that my actions were consistent with my expressed feelings.
* How I gave others permission to “call me on it” if I deviated from my expressed feelings.
* How others handle my being assertive with my anger and/or negative feelings.
* How we resolved the conflict or disagreement that resulted.
* The impact this confrontation had on our relationship.
* How the stress and anxiety of intimidation and power games was eliminated from our relationship.
* How I felt about learning to handle my anger and/or disagreements in a healthy way.
* The benefits of my being direct and assertive in confronting my anger and/or negative feelings with others.

Step 4: Once I’ve been able to rewrite my passive aggressive behavioral script, I need to apply it. Whenever I am angry or in disagreement with someone, I will strive to follow these tips:
Tips to Overcoming being Passive Aggressive
Tip 1: Tell the person immediately how I am feeling, even if I am angry or in disagreement.
Tip 2: Allow the other to express feelings openly as well.
Tip 3: Ask the other to allow for a compromise “win-win” solution.
Tip 4: Ventilate feelings, then jointly brainstorm solutions.
Tip 5: Arrive at a solution in which we both “win.”
Tip 6: Act on solutions in which we both “win.”
Tip 7: Make sure my actions are consistent with the agreement.
Tip 8: Make sure my behavior is consistent with my feelings and what I said in the agreement.
Tip 9: Give the other person permission to point out when my behavior deviates from our agreement.
Tip 10: Monitor my emotions and renegotiate our solution if they aren’t consistent with our compromise.
Tip 11: Let the other know if I get upset over the compromise with no masking of my feelings.
Tip 12: Confront intimidation openly and honestly.
Tip 13: Ensure that our relationship is based on honesty.
Tip 14: Accept the uniqueness and individuality of others, allowing each of us to be ourselves.

Step 5: If I find I am still resorting to passive aggressiveness then I need to return to Step 1, and begin again.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.