How to Deal with Passive-Aggressive People

Passive-aggressive people are deceitful in such a way that,  you hardly notice if you are being praised or envied i.e. they use sarcasm to win others. Ever had an encounter with them?

Passive aggressive people with anger in disguise, express displeasure over certain things and with the aim of getting away with it. “You’re being told what’s happening isn’t happening, and there’s something very withholding about the interaction. You know something is going on, and he’s denying it.” explains Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., author of Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man, and the vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center.

Passive aggressive behavior is being used to express anger in different, yet deceitful way. Generally, they are not happy with you, but tend to challenge you with sugar-coated bitterness in a way that will totally make you lost in the process of understanding their motive, while they try to

avoid direct conflict. When confronted for the anger, they deny responsibility but already achieved their aim which is to leave you in confusion.Passive-Agression

Loriann Oberlin, MS, coauthor of Overcoming Passive-Aggression also added that, “A passive-aggressive person is basically angry, but he or she is expressing anger in indirect ways”

In her remark, Monica A. Frank, Ph.D., explains some of the ways passive-aggressive people do criticize:

“Oh, I hear you’ve managed to pull off another miracle.” The problem with these kinds of comments is that if you try to confront them about the insult, you will be accused of not understanding, “I didn’t mean it that way” or of misinterpreting, “You must have a problem to think that. I was just trying to compliment you. Sorry I didn’t word it right to suit you.”

So, How do you deal with Passive-Aggressive People?

The following tips will help you interact with passive-aggressive people and never to let them tarnish your image.

Examine their Motive.

The very first approach in dealing with passive-aggressive people is to take time in examining their motive, study the phenomenon and their repeated utterances. You have to do this early enough in order not to fall for them permanently. Do they do this to make you feel bad only or to gain themselves some points? Wetzler projected that: “Once you recognize it’s a sign of hostility, it emboldens you to deal with it.”

Seize their reward.

The only thing that makes passive-aggressive people wanting to do more, is your regular response. And that is where their reward lies. Instead of giving them chance; cut short their expectations, by simply controlling your emotions while staying calm and keeping your replies simple.  “The less reactive you are, the less fuel they have for their passive-aggression,” says Oberlin.

Confront and be Assertive

With calmness and while having your emotions checked, approach the Passive agressive personpassive-aggressive person and let the person know you totally dislike their action and state the consequences the person stand to get if the scenario repeat itself. Though, it will be hard to get passive-aggressive person to feel sorry for an action, but, you can achieve this while taking the fellow in consideration too. Don’t be harsh!

According to Wetzler, let the passive-aggressive person know the exact word or action that made you so angry, and never flash back to previous ones which would only make total mess of your move.


  1. Preston Ni, M.S.B.A.: How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People  –  2014 Preston C.
  2. Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.: CRAZY-MAKERS: PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PEOPLE (page 5) –  Excel At Life, LLC.

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