My ex-husband was an expert in passive-aggressive behaviour.
At the time, I didn’t know that that’s what it was. At first, I would believe all the excuses and reasons why he didn’t do what we agreed upon. Only after a certain period of time was I able to look back and say, “Ahhhh. This is what passive-aggressive behaviour looks like.”
Passive-aggressive behaviour is a way of dealing with conflicts and confrontations. It involves procrastination, stubbornness, and even failure at the task that a person was responsible for. Usually, it is accompanied with various excuses: I didn’t have time, I couldn’t find it, I was so tired and so on. I am not saying that these reasons cannot be genuine, but once you hear them a bit too more often, this is a red flag that somebody is being passive-aggressive.
Yesterday, I wrote about reflective listening and how being able to express your feeling helps move the conflict in a very positive direction. People who are passive-aggressive might exhibit the following patterns.
- Expressing negative feelings in an indirect manner. Rather than stating what and how they feel directly, they prefer to beat around the bush and end up hiding their true feelings.
- Delaying or putting off the task that needs to get done. Often, it is a conscious decision. Again, rather than being upfront about the task at hand, they agree yet get it done at the very last minute or do not get it done it all. This, as crazy as it sounds, is used as punishment towards the person who ‘dared’ to make a request.
- Intentional failing is very common too. If they fail, then maybe they will not be asked to do this task again.
Watch carefully for these signs. From a relationship perspective, such behaviour is very difficult to deal with since you are never quite sure what you are dealing with – a genuine or a made-up excuse for the job not done.