Sometimes it's not about what you say. It's how you say it. There are people whose passive-aggressive remarks are so creative, so petty, so next level, you can't help but respect their words. Even if you're on the receiving end.
Yes, passive-aggressive behavior can be a symptom of several mental disorders, but it's not considered to be a distinct mental health condition. Even though this type of behavior can affect a person's ability to create and maintain healthy relationships and can cause problems at work, there are ways to manage it so that it doesn't have a negative impact on someone's quality of life.
So let's hope the folks who ended up on this list are managing it just fine!
Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist, whose specialties include relationships, told Bored Panda that passive-aggressive behavior is behavior that communicates how a person is feeling, but not in a clear or direct way. "As a result, the recipient of this behavior often may be confused or miss the real reason the person being passive-aggressive is acting or talking a certain way," Thomas explained.
As you can see in the pictures, people exhibit passive-aggressive behavior in a number of different ways. According to Thomas, they can do so through words and/or actions, and examples include slamming things, getting overly defensive, yelling, getting overly emotional, having a negative tone or words, etc. all for seemingly no reason.
If uncontrolled, passive-aggressive behavior can have grave consequences to relationships between people in families, romances, and even in the workplace. So why is this destructive behavior so common?
"A person can be passive-aggressive for a variety of reasons," Thomas said. "Some of these include having a fear of confrontation or conflict, not knowing how to express oneself with direct communication, having difficulty or being unable to identify what one is feeling, having self-doubt or ambivalence about what one is thinking or feeling, not wanting to emotionally hurt the other person with the direct message, etc."
Some experts suggest that the roots of passive-aggressive behavior may lie in a person's upbringing. For example, if someone was raised in an environment where the direct expression of emotions was discouraged or not allowed, they may feel that they cannot express their real feelings more openly, so they may instead find ways to passively channel their anger or frustration.
But situational characteristics can also have an impact on passive-aggressive behavior. When you are in a situation where displays of aggression are not socially acceptable, such as dealing with business partners or certain family members, you might be more inclined to respond in a covert way when someone makes you angry.
Also, as Thomas pointed out, being assertive and emotionally open at the same time can be hard. When standing up for yourself is difficult or even scary, passive-aggression might seem like an easier way to deal with your emotions without having to confront the source of your anger.
It sounds self-explanatory, but in order to defuse passive-aggression, you have recognize it. Sulking, backhanded compliments, procrastination, withdrawal, and refusal to communicate are all tell-tale signs of passive-aggression.
"Although each situation varies, a good response to someone who is being passive-aggressive to you is to be clear and direct in a non-confrontational, calm way with that person," Thomas said. "First, point out your confusion if that person is upset about something that involves you. Let them know that his or her words or actions seem out-of-proportion and out-of-place to the given situation and that you would like him or her to tell you directly if there is something upsetting him or her related to you. Hopefully, this will either make that person aware of their passive-aggressive behavior and take steps to decrease or stop behaving in those ways and/or make it easier to share what they really are upset about."
However, if they mean no harm and you're OK with their attitude—maybe their light-hearted, poetic passive-aggression even cracks you up—share it with the Internet. We appreciate a good one-liner when we see one.
My roommate put this on our fridge
We just moved into a townhouse with a 2 car garage and my roommate doesn't quite leave me enough room to park (My car is the silver one). I came home around 2:30 and was not having it so I pulled up as close as I could to her so I could fit. I had the same amount of room on the driver side. I don't know if I could do that again so I thought I would share before this gets downvoted to usersub hell.
British passive aggressiveness at it's best
My dad found my passive aggressive note that I wrote to the tooth fairy. It was better than I remember.
Passive aggressive roommate preparing for valentines day.
Passive aggressive evangelizing
This is what happens when people submit passive-aggressive office memos where I work.
My wife made me a passive aggressive flow chart to use every time I get hungry