12 warning signs you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive person

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Ever bumped into someone who doesn’t seem angry, but for some reason, they still make you feel uncomfortable?

They’re not directly mean, but something about their behavior just gets to you?

You might be dealing with a passive-aggressive person.

It’s when someone expresses their upset feelings in a roundabout way, instead of just talking about it.

It may be a bit tricky to spot since it’s often pretty low-key. You could even start doubting your own judgement.

But hey, no worries. I’m here to help.

Let’s go through the12 warning signs that you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive person.

1. They’re Masters of the Silent Treatment

Ever asked someone if they’re upset, and all you got was a cold shoulder?

Passive-aggressive people are experts at this. Instead of expressing their feelings, they prefer to give you the silent treatment.

It’s their way of letting you know they’re not happy, without having to use any words.

If silence could speak, right?

So, next time someone goes radio silent on you, remember this could be a sign of passive-aggressiveness. Stay cool and don’t let it get to you. 

2. They’re Sarcasm Superstars

Ever had a conversation with someone who’s overly sarcastic?

While a bit of sarcasm can be funny, passive-aggressive folks take it to a whole new level.

They use sarcasm as a sneaky way to insult or criticize you without looking like the bad guy.

If you feel like you’re on the receiving end of too many “just kidding” remarks, you may be dealing with a passive-aggressive person.

Remember, it’s not always just a joke, so don’t be afraid to speak up if it makes you uncomfortable!

3. They Love to Play the Victim

You know, I once had a friend who was forever playing the victim.

No matter what happened, she always managed to twist things around, making herself look like the innocent party.

For example, we were planning a surprise party for another friend and she forgot to order the cake.

When I asked her about it, she said, “Well, nobody reminded me. It’s not my fault if I have too much on my plate!”

Instead of owning up to her mistake, she deflected the blame onto others.

This is classic passive-aggressive behavior – when they mess up, instead of apologizing, they act like it’s everyone else’s fault but their own.

4. They’re Procrastination Pros

Did you know that chronic procrastination can actually be a form of passive-aggressiveness?

Psychologists believe that some people procrastinate as a way to indirectly express their resentment or anger.

This is especially common when they’re asked to do something they don’t want to do.

So if you’ve asked your coworker for that report several times and they’re still “working on it”, or your friend keeps delaying plans you’ve made together, it might not just be forgetfulness or laziness. They could be passively resisting.

5. They’re Not Big on Compliments

Have you ever received a compliment that didn’t feel quite right? Like there was an unspoken “but” looming in the air?

Passive-aggressive people have a way with words that can turn even the sweetest compliment sour.

For example, they might say, “You did such a great job on that project. I’m surprised you pulled it off.”

The compliment is there, but so is a hidden jab.

This kind of backhanded compliment can be hurtful and frustrating.

It’s important to remember that their comments are more about their own issues than a reflection of your worth. 

6. They’re Experts in Subtle Insults

I remember a time when I had to deal with a passive-aggressive person daily.

We worked together and she had this way of dropping subtle insults into our conversations.

It was like getting a paper cut – you don’t realize it’s there until it stings.

For instance, we were discussing our weekend plans and I mentioned I was going to a concert.

She said, “Oh, isn’t that band for teenagers?” It was her way of implying that my music taste was immature, but she didn’t outright say it.

If you know someone who has a knack for sneaky put-downs like these, you might be dealing with a passive-aggressive person. Remember, it’s their issue, not yours. Don’t let their digs get to you!

7. They’re Pros at Playing Dumb

Have you ever dealt with someone who suddenly acts like they don’t understand what you’re saying when you confront them?

It’s as if they’ve grown a second head or something. Super frustrating, right?

This is a classic move by passive-aggressive folks. By playing dumb, they dodge responsibility and leave you feeling exasperated. It’s like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.

So, if you find yourself repeating the same things to someone who conveniently “forgets” or “doesn’t understand”, chances are, you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive person.

Remember, it’s not your job to fix them. Keep your cool and don’t let their games drag you down!

8. They’re Kings and Queens of Backhanded Compliments

Did you know backhanded compliments are a classic tool in a passive-aggressive person’s arsenal?

According to psychology experts, these compliments that feel like insults are a way for passive-aggressive people to express their negativity without looking bad.

So if someone tells you, “Your hair looks so much better than usual today” or “You’re smarter than you look,” don’t just brush it off.

These are not genuine compliments but veiled insults. It’s a sneaky way for a passive-aggressive person to express their negative thoughts.

Remember, their words reflect more about them than about you. Keep your head high and don’t let their comments get to you!

9. They’re Pretty Good at Holding Grudges

I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with passive-aggressive people, and let me tell you, they’re pretty good at holding grudges.

I remember this one guy from my college days – we had a minor disagreement once, and he held onto it for months!

He’d never say anything outright, but he’d show his resentment in subtle ways.

Like conveniently forgetting to invite me to group study sessions, or giving curt responses when I tried to start a conversation. It was exhausting!

So if you notice someone can’t seem to move past an old argument or slight, you might be dealing with a passive-aggressive person. Just know it’s their issue to deal with, not yours. Don’t let their grudges weigh you down. 

10. They’re Experts at Stubbornness

We can all be a bit stubborn sometimes. But with passive-aggressive people, it’s like trying to move a mountain.

They’re so set in their ways that even the most logical argument won’t sway them. It’s like talking to a brick wall!

If you’ve got someone in your life who won’t budge an inch even when they’re clearly in the wrong, chances are you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive person.

You can’t reason with unreasonable, so save your breath for someone who deserves it!

11. They’re Masters of Making Excuses

Ever meet someone with an excuse for everything?

It’s never their fault; there’s always some reason why they couldn’t do what they were supposed to do.

It’s enough to drive you crazy!

This is another classic sign of passive-aggressiveness. They’ll dodge responsibility at all costs rather than owning up to their mistakes.

Don’t get caught up in their blame game – it’s not worth your energy.

12. They’re Pros at Making You Feel Guilty

The guilt trip is a favorite tactic of the passive-aggressive person. They know just how to twist things around so that you end up feeling guilty, even when you’ve done nothing wrong.

It’s manipulative and unfair, and you don’t have to put up with it. If someone is constantly making you feel guilty, take a step back and ask yourself if they’re being passive-aggressive.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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