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Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

How to deal with passive-aggressive people without losing your mind.

written by Andrea Brandt, PHD, MFT January 10, 2020
Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Most of us have at least one passive-aggressive person in our life. Maybe it’s a mother who nitpicks and criticizes everything we do, or a co-worker who uses sarcasm to cut us down, or a micromanaging boss who drops hints but never tells us directly that we’re not doing a good job. Just being around a passive-aggressive person can harm one’s mental health.

How can you deal with passive-aggressive people?

There are a few things you should know about passive aggression: First, it is a form of anger. Your passive-aggressive mother, co-worker, and/or boss are deeply angry people. They’re just as angry as a person who screams or throws things, but they have a different way of showing it. Passive-aggressive people are often terrified of confrontation, so they couch their anger with smiles. Some may not be self-aware enough to realize they’re angry, but their anger, bitterness, or frustration lies just under the surface.

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