Passive Aggression Behavior - A Obstruction in Relationships Growth

Passive Aggression Behavior - A Obstruction in Relationships Growth

Passive Aggression Behavior - A Obstruction in Relationships Growth

What is passive behaviour?

In simple words, passive behaviour can be understood as having a behaviour which can be directly controlled by others. 

A passive person has the tendency of putting other persons' needs before himself. It is more like a weak and timid behaviour where a person even though they should be putting themselves first but still opt for putting the needs and requirements of other people first.

As said earlier a passive person’s behaviour is controlled by others this also means that the person who is passive will also let others choose the activities they want to do with him without contradicting.

For example –

  • Not saying no to someone’s else plans even though one doesn’t want to or one has other plans.
  • Silently listening to the other person in a discussion and agreeing on it even if the arguments don’t seem reasonable.

What is aggressive behaviour?

A behaviour can be categorised as aggressive behaviour if a person deliberately makes himself or others or the objects around him suffer or provide harm to them.

Research studies suggest that there are various root causes for a person to have aggressive behaviour such as exposure to violent media and video games, high temperature, alcohol consumption and gender differences etc.

Now aggressive behaviour can be expressed in three ways:-

  • Physical – This involves doing physical harm to others, oneself or the things present in his environment.

For example – Beating, Punching, kicking, damaging the things around him or damaging others’ belongings.

  • Verbal- This involves doing psychological harm to others through the use of words and gestures and does not include any physical harm to the person.

For example – Calling various mocking names a person for his religion, caste, creed, colour or body shape etc.

Verbally abusing someone because one doesn’t agree with us.

  • Relational- In this, a person tends to harm the relationship of others through various ways and means.

For Example- Spreading false rumours, making fun of someone’s relationship in front of others, telling negative about the partner to each other etc.


Now the question comes…

What is passive aggressive behaviour?

Passive-aggressive behaviour is a way of expressing aggressive behaviour in an indirect manner rather than directly confronting ones aggression to the other person.

There can be various reasons for a person to express passive-aggressive behaviour but some of the main causes include deep anger, hostility, and frustration from others for whatever reason the person finds it difficult to express his feelings in a direct way they find indirect methods for the same.

For example-

  • A person might say yes to the plan of the others even though he doesn’t want to but they end up making excuses at the last moment.
  • A person may keep saying that he is fine even though they are not happy, frustrated or unsatisfied with the actions of others.
  • Not doing work on deadlines or doing work less than what they are capable of as a way of showing non-cooperation or opposition to another person.

Why passive aggressive behaviour is dangerous?

  • A person finds it difficult to gain the trust and cooperation of the passive-aggressive person.
  • It leads to conflicts in one’s relationship.
  • An employee tends to show passive-aggressive behaviour that may cause disciplinary action on them or even removal from the job.
  • A student showing passive-aggressive behaviour by not getting marks of which he is actually capable of or getting lower marks that his potential
  • A long frustration and anger inside can a passive-aggressive person more vulnerable to mental disorders.


What are the causes of passive-aggressive behaviour?

  • Family, society and cultural values- Passive aggressive behaviour can be caused due to different norms in families, cultures and societies that influence a person’s behaviour, for instance in some families, the children are not allowed to directly show their anger, frustration or resentment in front of their parents as for their parents this is a disrespect to them then in some cultures boys are said not to be emotional and are not allowed to express their feelings openly as doing that would make them less “manly”. This suppressed emotion and frustration keep getting added up and giving birth to passive-aggressive behaviour.

  • Environment- Sometimes passive-aggressive behaviour can depend upon one’s environment also. For instance, there are situations where people are expected to be passive in nature or are expected not to show their anger or resentment towards others.

  • Inability to confront feelings – Some people are less emotionally expressive than others due to which they are also not able to confront their feelings or in other words open up in front of others and talk about their inner feelings and this leads to passive-aggressive behaviour,

  • Mental Health – Sometimes suffering from various mental health disorders also makes it tough for a person to express his feelings, and anger in an efficient way due to which they tend to choose the path of passive aggression.

How to deal with a passive-aggressive person?

  • Recognizing- The first and foremost step in dealing with a passive-aggressive person is to recognise the signs of passive aggression in that person.

  • Confronting – One’s we are sure that the other person is showing passive aggression we should try to find the reason for the same and ask the person about it in a way that they are convinced to speak up about their feelings with us.

For example – If one knows that their employee I’d angry or frustrated due to new policies of the company but is not expressing his anger in a direct way the company HR can walk and ask the employee questions like “ are you happy with the company’s new policies or is there any changes you want or any modifications you thick can be applied in it”.

This way the person would feel much better and might open up their feelings.

  • Non-judgemental space- The third step in the process is to provide a non-judgmental space to the person so that they feel much more comfortable opening up with their feelings.

  • Providing time- A passive-aggressive behaviour is not a result of one day's anger but it is a bottle up feeling for long time and hence the passive aggressor needs time to heal with it even after they have confronted their feelings with the other person. So we should be patient with the passive aggressor and try to make them feel comfortable so that they recover in a better way.


In conclusion, we can say that passive-aggressive behaviour is a way of showing anger, frustration, and resentment toward others but in an indirect way.

Second, a passive aggressor finds it difficult to express their feelings and hence this lack of behaviour expression causes this type of behaviour in a person.

Third, there are various signs of passive aggression in a person which can be identified and dealt with.

And passive-aggressive behaviour is not just harmful to the passive aggressor but also to people from whom the aggression started to build and also to the people and objects around the passive aggressor.

Last, there is an effective way of dealing with a passive assessor all we need to provide a supportive, non-judgmental environment to that person so that they are able to open up with their feelings with us. 

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Psychologs Magazine

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