Passive Aggressive People Can Be Difficult To Deal With
Dear Dr. LeCrone:
Passive-aggressive people drive me up the wall. Teenagers and employees with this problem get under my skin most of all. Would you please write about this very-difficult-to-deal-with behavior? — A reader in Georgia
Individuals with a passive-aggressive personality can be difficult to deal with and can make life miserable for those around them.
Here are some examples of how a passive aggressive personality can assert itself:
* A teenager has been asked four times to set the table. When he finally begins the task, he mumbles under his breath in belligerent tones, bangs the plates and silverware down on the table, spills a glass of milk and “accidentally” drops and breaks a new plate.
* A nurse is all smiles and pleasant to patients while the doctor is in the examining room. But as soon as the doctor exits, the nurse becomes cold, aloof and disinterested. Patients may leave the office with a bad impression of the treatment team and seek help elsewhere.
* A receptionist or salesperson who acts disinterested or bored or angry can destroy sales or client contacts. He or she can stifle a sale because this employee can be the first contact a potential client meets.
When you encounter a passive-aggressive personality, do not assign them tasks where their performance can go unnoticed and their sabotage can be easily accomplished. Also, try not to put yourself in a position of being dependent upon them at critical moments. These individuals have a way of hurting when it can hurt the most.
Passive-aggressive employees are not good members of a team. They often cleverly disguise their dirty work. The task of recognizing and confronting the troubled employee with their behavior must occur and be followed by consequences consistent with company policy.
Adolescents are characteristically self-centered and confrontational, so passive-aggressive behavior in adolescents is often displayed in a matter of degrees.
Mildly annoying, stubborn and irritable teen behavior is not uncommon in teens, but flagrant opposition, destructive and persistently negative behavior often requires counseling.
Enlisting the teens’ support and showing them love and affection can go a long way toward helping them through this turbulent time of life.
Learning to recognize and deal with passive-aggressive people can be a very frustrating and challenging problem in many kinds of relationships.
Helping the passive-aggressive person change their problematic behavior is difficult but not impossible.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2009