Passive aggressive people can often cause more problems for the people around them due to spite, frustration or just general manipulation. If you want to curb that behaviour, highlight how much it costs them to be passive aggressive.
Photo by Paul Downey.
As advice site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, people who are passive aggressive often like to frame situations as though they’re the victim. You may want to retaliate in those situations, with a hearty, “This isn’t about you!” However, that can only feed their mentality. Instead, highlight how the situation they’re creating has natural costs for them:
Overt punishment or retaliation won’t work. That just feeds their narrative of “Me: Victim; You: Bully.” But their bad behaviour causes problems for you and it needs to cause problems for them too. It was awful that a 747 crashed into the post office where they were supposed to mail that letter for you, and you feel terrible they had to suffer through that tragedy. But since it happened, there’s now another step they need to complete.
Filling out an incident report or paying that late fee you incurred. Anything you can think up that makes their “accidental” slip ups not worth the hassle in the future.
More often than not, passive aggression is used to avoid problems rather than solve them. And avoiding problems leads to natural consequences. Maybe they’d rather complain about their significant other rather than have an awkward conversation. If you can point out that their partner will only keep doing the thing they don’t like if they don’t talk about it, they may be forced to confront some consequences.
This Is How To Win With Passive-Aggressive People: 5 Proven Secrets [Barking Up the Wrong Tree]