How to Deal with Passive-Aggressive Behavior

People in your life can make you feel bad or wrong by saying one thing to you and meaning something else. You can avoid falling into their traps.


Up next in How to Improve Your Communication Skills (68 videos)

Whether you're dealing with friends, family, a lover, or co-workers, you'll benefit from the communication skills taught in this Howcast video series. Among the advice included: how to tell someone off; how to deliver an ultimatum; how to complain; how to solve creative differences; how to give a compliment; how to take criticism; how to apologize; how to read social cues; how to learn to say no; and much more.


You Will Need

  • Self-acceptance
  • Honesty
  • Dignity
  • Realistic attitude
  • Self control
  • Anger management classes (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Accept yourself

    Accept yourself and enjoy life. Look at your own habits of avoidance and manipulation and be honest about your need to feel guilty or responsible when someone wants to get a reaction out of you.

  2. If you act like nothing is wrong, you could end up imitating passive-aggressive people by deflecting your own needs.

  3. Step 2

    Discuss the facts

    Discuss objective facts, not feelings. You will reduce conflict and the nagging self-doubt that follows.

  4. Step 3

    Use "I" message

    Use "I" messages to confront the person. Let them know how their behavior makes you feel. Maintain your dignity and communicate faith in the other person's ability to solve what is actually their problem.

  5. Step 4

    Encourage responsibility

    Encourage passive-aggressive people to take on more tasks so they can’t blame others by opting out of participation.

  6. Step 5

    Be realistic

    Be realistic about the passive-aggressive person's ability to change and don’t delude yourself into thinking you can solve their problems. Such 'caretaking' may only solidify their behaviors.

  7. Take anger management classes with a passive-aggressive partner to show support.

  8. Step 6

    Handle your stress

    Handle your stress whenever you have to deal with a passive-aggressive person. Don’t complicate things by dwelling on your frustrated expectations.

  9. In 2009, almost 121 million people worldwide were depressed and almost 10 percent of the American public was taking anti-depressants.