During this year’s Anger Awareness Week from 1-7 December 2020, we’re focusing on passive aggression – what it is, how you can tell if you suffer from it, and what to do about it.
‘Pass-agg’ has become a millennial buzzword for manipulative, provocative, underhand and quietly disruptive behaviour. But passive aggression itself is rooted in anger management issues.
Passive aggressive people are angry – perhaps even more so than active aggressive people. But while active aggressive people demonstrate their anger very noticeably, passive aggressive people often fly below the radar. Because that’s just their intention; they are keenly aware of how acting out their anger is unacceptable in most situations.
While active aggressive people get anger ‘off their chest’ by dumping it on others, passive aggressive people do not have the same outlet and their anger can gestate into full-blown depression.
If you can identify with the following behaviour patterns, there’s a chance you may suffer from passive aggression.
Giving others the silent treatment. This could range from refusing to speak to romantic partner when you’re angry with them, to tacitly refusing to fully cooperate professionally with colleagues who rub you up the wrong way.
Subtle insults. These are sometimes explained away as ‘jokes’ when you are confronted, but tend to be around highly personal subject matter or designed to undermine within the specific social situation.
Sulking. This, as BAAM founder Mike Fisher puts it in his bestselling book Beating Anger, is ‘anger through a small hole’. It is aggression masquerading as upset or sadness. And while sulking, you meet any innocent attempts to build conversation with mildly belligerent, surly responses.
Inflexibility. How dare someone suggest a different way of doing things to how you wanted? God help them now. Even if their suggestion might be better all round, including for yourself.
Winding up active aggressive people. This is the number one sign of a passive aggressive person. You make active aggressive people blow their tops through a combination of frustrating passive aggressive behaviours… and this is how you act out your anger, through them. Sure, you may do the same thing to people who don’t suffer anger issues at all, but it’s much easier and more spectacular to do it to active aggressive people. At BAAM we see a number of couples where one partner is active aggressive and the other passive, acting out on each other.
If this sounds like you we suggest a one hour personal evaluation with Mike Fisher to discover and outline any issues you might have, and start you on the road to recovery.
Tomorrow we’ll be looking at what causes passive aggression, continuing our Anger Awareness Week series.