In my lifetime, I haven’t dealt with many passive-aggressive people, but the ones I did encounter were memorable, to say the least.
They also weren’t exactly as subtle as one might think. On the contrary, you could easily see something’s wrong with them and that there’s more going on behind the curtain, so to speak.
So, without further delay, let’s see what are some more or less easily recognizable behaviors that reveal you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive person.
1) They make unreasonable demands
Dealing with a passive-aggressive person can sometimes feel like you’re being set up to fail. They’re great at making totally unrealistic demands.
For example, they expect you to finish a super complex task in an impossibly short time.
And, in a relationship, your partner might insist that you should read their mind and know what they want without them communicating their needs.
They simply expect you to be a mind reader.
These kinds of demands are a surefire way to pile on the pressure and leave you feeling stressed and frustrated because meeting their expectations is just not humanly possible.
If that doesn’t raise your suspicion about them, nothing will. And guess what? When they fail, make an error, or neglect to do something, they’ll simply shift blame.
2) They often blame others
Blaming others is a common tactic used by passive-aggressive people to deflect responsibility for their actions.
They shift blame onto coworkers, family members, or circumstances that were “out of their control” instead of taking ownership of their mistakes or flaws.
In a typical family scenario, think of a passive-aggressive relative as the one who, after a family gathering didn’t go as smoothly as planned, points fingers and says something like, “The whole dinner turned into a mess because your brother didn’t chip in enough.”
With that, they blame someone else and stir up tension within the family. Plus, they enable a cycle of finger-pointing and defensiveness in relationships.
Not to mention how much they love creating all the drama and sitting back and enjoying the show.
3) They’re intentionally forgetful
Say someone said they’d help you move, then suddenly goes silent and leaves you with a house full of boxes and no help in sight.
It’s not cool, is it?
This is yet another behavior passive-aggressive people are fairly known – being intentionally forgetful.
They selectively “forget” important details or commitments, usually when it suits their agenda.
For instance, they conveniently forget about an agreement they had with you, leaving you confused and disappointed. This might also make you suspicious of all their future behavior and actions.
For these folks, acting this way is like finding a sneaky shortcut to escape from their promises and duties without saying a flat-out “no.”
But let me tell you, it’s like a hidden trapdoor for the people who were counting on them.
They’re left hanging, wondering what happened, and it’s seriously irritating.
4) They love playing the victim
Another thing that will help you recognize a passive-aggressive person is the fact that they’re big fans of playing the victim card.
You know, they tend to make a big deal out of even the smallest issues, making it seem like the world is out to get them.
In fact, the few passive-aggressive people I’ve dealt with were always in dire straits and needed everyone to rally around them.
This was really exhausting for the people in their lives because they were constantly on standby to provide comfort and reassurance, even for things that weren’t really that big of a deal.
5) They withhold information from you
Now, imagine you’re working on a project, and one team member has some key information that everyone needs.
However, they purposely keep it to themselves. They don’t share important details, updates, or their part of the work.
This leaves the rest of the team in the dark and results in confusion, misunderstandings, and problems in the project.
They’re trying to complete a puzzle with missing pieces because someone is reluctant to give them the whole picture.
Keeping others in the dark is a tactic often used by passive-aggressive people. They choose not to share important information, updates, or plans, effectively leaving others uninformed and at a disadvantage.
But then again, they also love doing the following:
6) They’re often procrastinating
Passive-aggressive are the champions of the “I’ll do it later” club. When you ask them to do something, they nod in agreement but secretly have no intention of getting it done anytime soon.
Their delay tactics can drive you up the wall, especially when you’re counting on them to follow through.
It’s like they’ve got a secret resistance button, and instead of saying, “I’d rather not do it,” they just make you wait and wonder.
In the end, you’re left frustrated and inconvenienced because they couldn’t just be upfront about not wanting to do the task.
My blood boils just from rereading this!
7) They make sudden U-turns
Many times, dealing with passive-aggressive people feels like trying to catch a slippery fish.
They’re pros at making sudden U-turns in their opinions, decisions, or plans. One moment, they’re all on board, and the next, they’re doing a 180-degree spin.
This leaves you scratching your head, not knowing what to expect from them and making it hard to keep up with their ever-changing behavior.
It’s like trying to predict the weather in Ireland – you get all four seasons in one day.
8) They give you backhanded compliments
As someone who loves being sarcastic, at times, I really have to restrain myself from being seen as an inconsiderable tool (or worse).
That’s because when someone dishes out backhanded compliments, they give you a sneaky jab in the form of a compliment.
They’ll say something like, “You did okay, given your usual performance,” which basically hints that they don’t think much of your regular efforts.
It’s a sly move that can really mess with your self-esteem and make you question your abilities. They’re being nice on the surface but subtly knocking your confidence.
9) They give you the silent treatment
It’s a sneaky way of dealing with issues without actually talking about them.
They choose to ignore you, hoping you’ll feel awkward or guilty for whatever they believe you did wrong.
They’re basically saying, “I’m not going to talk to you until you figure out what you did.”
Like many other things mentioned in this article, you’ll be left frustrated and confused because they’re not addressing the problem directly, leaving you in a sort of emotional limbo.
But passive-aggressive people also often resort to indirect hints or insinuations instead of openly discussing their concerns or issues.
They use phrases like “It’s fine, I guess,” or even sighs to show their displeasure, expecting others to pick up on these cues.
10) They will guilt trip you into doing everything
You know when someone makes you feel like you’re the cause of all their problems? That’s called guilt-tripping, and it’s pretty manipulative.
A family member would say, “I’ve been so lonely lately, but I guess it’s just how it is,” insinuating that you’re not spending enough time with them, even though they won’t come out and say it.
This can make you feel guilty about not being there for them.
It’s also super draining and makes you feel obligated to fix their issues, even though it’s not really your responsibility.
How to deal with a passive-aggressive person
Dealing with a passive-aggressive person is like trying to find a way out of an emotional maze.
But here’s the shortcut:
- Communicate directly with them, keeping your cool when they drop hints or make sarcastic comments.
- Set clear boundaries, let them know what behavior is acceptable, and don’t get sucked into their mind games.
- Ask for straightforward, honest communication, encouraging them to express their feelings openly.
- If the passive-aggression persists and it’s taking a toll on your relationship, get professional help to untangle the passive-aggressive knots.