Purt, my cat is good at passive aggressive behavior. She comes close, almost close enough to pet, and as soon as my hand reaches toward her, she turns away. So, given that I’ve shared a cat example let’s get into a few human examples. Passive aggressive persons are resentful at the requests or demands or perceived demands of others. They often view those requests or demands as unfair. The person doesn’t respond with an explanation of not feeling comfortable with following through, but will bottle the emotion up. So it appears they have acquiesced. Occasionally their true attitude shows itself in a conversation where he or she talks about what is fair and unfair in life.
- Deliberate procrastination: Procrastination is filled with excuses to delay. Sometimes the task never is completed. It punishes the person who made the request. Many times the requester completes the task or hires someone to complete it. Usually this causes an expression of anger from the procrastinator.
- Stonewalling or the silent treatment: So you know something is wrong between you. You ask, ‘What’s wrong?” The answer, “Nothing.” Being on the receiving end of this is frustrating because the passive aggressive person now has control over resolution. There is a huge gap between what is happening and what is being said. This happened when my spouse said, “Nothing” to my what is wrong question. So I said, “If it’s nothing then don’t tell me about it sometime in the future. You are saying it’s nothing so I’m taking your word for it. I don’t want to hear about it later.”
4. Intentional mistakes: So the idea is to do the task so poorly that they never get asked again. It’s amazing that talented and skilled passive aggressive persons who cannot figure out how to manage a washing machine.
5. Disguising criticism with compliments: They are excellent at disguising a hurtful ridicule as a compliment. It can be about a person’s intellect or talent. Often times this is done in the presence of others thereby limiting the recipient’s ability to respond. One friend’s spouse did this at an office party so often that she left and walked home. This gave the offending spouse an opportunity to get sympathy for having such an unpredictable partner.
6. The last word: Passive aggressive people must have one last word in order to feel superior or ‘right.’ Usually it’s subtle and from a victim stance as though they were the righteous one by giving in. In any event it’s getting in the final word. My uncle’s dog, after being scolded, would walk into another room and go ‘woof.’ That’s the passive aggressive style.