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Dealing WIth Passive-Aggressive Relationships

Tags:  Passive - Aggressive Behavior

It doesn't matter if you are at work or at home, when you encounter someone who is being passive/aggressive in their behavior, you know it.

It's like hitting a brick wall. They tell you one thing, but underneath there is the real coded message that you have to try to find and decipher. It can be exhausting. And if you guess wrong about what the real message is, you just might make it more difficult for yourself.

That's why it is important to learn how to deal with people who are being passive/aggressive by getting to the root of the issue. And you can do that by following these Guideposts:

1. Don't counter negative behavior with negative behavior

As much as you would like to throw the sarcastic or negative comments and behavior right back at the other person, don't. It won't get you any further ahead. In fact, it more than likely will cause further problems and result in a continued deadlock.

This is where you have to maintain your cool, knowing that the other person is angry, and try to determine what the root cause is for the bad behavior. Be prepared to take the lead in the search for the other person's real frustration.

2. Call the behavior; describe what it is and why it is a problem

Even though the passive/aggressive person probably knows their behavior, attitude and comments are wrong, somehow they can't stop. Their anger is greater than their current reasoning.

That's why it is up to you to help them by pointing it out to them. Not in a hostile, blaming tone. But in a way that helps them. Direct and to the point. Tell them what is not appropriate and why. Help them to see that it is more important and helpful to be open and honest in their dealings with other people.

3. Ask for alternate behavior; describe what you expect

Once you have set the stage for a straightforward discussion, then it is important to set the tone for this and all future encounters.

Explain what you feel is a better way for them to behave and how it will help the situation. Let them know what your expectations are for handling their frustrations in the future. That means defining more appropriate behavior. By allowing them the opportunity to see that it's okay to be open and frank with you, you give them permission to say what is really on their mind.

Sometimes in the process of dealing with a lot of different things in our lives we forget that other people have a lot on their plate, too. Our anger and resentment can mount if we don't feel we have someone to help us or someone to lean on.

Clear communication is vital to any relationship – work or personal. Make sure you communicate your needs and expectations and that the person you are speaking with does the same. Don't let passive/aggressive behavior go unchecked or it could damage an otherwise great relationship.

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