Everything You Need to Know about Passive Aggressive Behavior

During World War II, some American soldiers were found guilty of disobeying the orders of their officers. They were called for showing passive-aggressive behavior. It was a new concept then. However, it is still relevant today.

Instead of letting out the emotions directly, some people tend to express their bitterness in a passive-aggressive manner. They design ways to hurt and confuse their target with an indirect aggressive approach.

Passive aggression is not considered a mental illness. However, many people have faced it once in a lifetime. For example, if your relative borrowed a sum of money, and he/she is unable to return it on time. So, there are higher chances that you might passively show your aggression.

Red Flags of Passive Aggressive Behavior

Following are the red flags of passive-aggressive behavior:

  • Developing an argumentative attitude
  • Feeling underappreciated and insecure
  • Criticizing others over their efforts
  • Making mistakes intentionally

Identifying Passive Aggressive Behavior

If you are suffering from passive-aggressive behavior, it is better to consult a mental health expert. He will ask different questions about symptoms, thoughts, personal history, and behavior. He will also ask some important questions about your work, relationships, and routine habits.

Causes of Passive Aggressive Behavior

Biological and environmental factors are the main reason for the change in behavior of an individual. Well, it won’t be appropriate to only target these two, however, these both are the core reasons.

Sometimes, the frustration, anger, and hostility that triggers a petty argument can become the reason for passive aggression. People try to hide their emotions and are not comfortable in being expressive about them. People who are related to the person, who is suffering from passive-aggressive behavior – might be unable to understand the reason for his behavior, as they are unaware of his/her depression and misery.

Passive aggression can have a drastic impact on your relationship with family and friends. It can also affect your work performance at your office. Some people have certain experiences which become the reason for this particular behavior. These reasons can include, but are not limited to:


Will you be able to stop yourself from being angry if your loved one gets abused? Well, sometimes, situations do get out of hand, and we just can’t control our emotions. But you are bound to control yourself in such situations, which otherwise would lead us to dire consequences.


Researchers believe that people begin to show passive-aggressive behavior during their childhood. The harsh behavior towards children, when they have no sense of understanding is one of the major contributing factors in the upbringing of a child.

When children are less appreciated and made part of child abuse that also leads an individual to create passive-aggressive behavior. Certain health conditions can also trigger the development of passive-aggressive behavior in children.

Being an introvert

Sometimes, people want to take an easy way. Instead of showing their emotions openly, people find it relatively easier to keep things to themselves. On a few occasions, you tend to burst out in anger and then tend to regret your actions.

How does Passive Aggressive Behavior affect Others?

It might become frustrating for the people who are facing or being targeted by passive aggression. Sometimes, your family members want you to open up about the issue, however, you try to hide your emotions behind anger and annoyance. Due to this arrogant behavior, you may lose your loved ones.

How to treat Passive Aggressive Behavior?

If you are suffering from passive-aggressive behavior, there are higher chances that you might require the assistance of a psychotherapist. They can help you work through your emotional and behavioral issues. He/she will also help you learn powerful strategies to address the situation at hand in a more productive way. Instead of suffocating yourself, through these therapies, one could learn the art of opening up and expressing their feelings regarding a subject. This way it would help an individual to reduce the pressure of resentment.

Your doctor may conduct a physical exam, or otherwise direct you to get neurological tests done to determine if the medical condition, you are going through, contributes to your passive-aggressive behavior. He may also conduct diagnostic tests that may include a blood test, neurological examination, and imaging tests.

How to handle Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Few of the simple steps to counter passive-aggressive behavior. Those include:

  • Identify possible reasons for your behavior
  • Think clearly before you act
  • Take your time to react to situations that influence your behavior
  • Stay optimistic
  • Be honest with yourself and others and express your feelings


This brings us to the end of this article. In this article, we have provided you with all the important information about passive-aggressive behavior, its causes, red flags, symptoms, and treatment.

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