I remember the first time I encountered a passive-aggressive behavioral type. He was amazingly good with his technique. I ended up feeling guilty about something he believed regarding my intentions and apologizing for a wrong only he perceived. It was only after the fact that I was able to understand how he had played on my emotions. And it was only after researching “problem behavioral types and how to deal with them” that I was able to deal with passive-aggressive people like him effectively. Here is what I learned…
_____ 1. Passive aggressive behavioral types act the way they do because their actions have worked for them in the past. If you can make their actions ineffective on you, they will hesitate before trying to use them on you again.
_____ 2. Passive aggressive behavioral types hate confrontation. If you confront their passive aggressive behavior each time they act out, they will most likely reconsider their behavior and think twice before victimizing you again.
_____ 3. Passive aggressive people often withhold information that you need, so they can put you at a disadvantage. The trick is to get them to open up, while managing to maintain a working relationship. Often when they open up, they will begin to blame you for their actions, so you must stay strong and not allow them to manipulate your feelings.
_____4. If you need to confront a passive aggressive person, always meet with them alone. Passive aggressive people have been known to feed off of audiences. While you are with them, your aim is to make their remaining passively silent more uncomfortable than opening up and being straight with you.
_____5. Throw out a general explanation of what you want to discuss and what you hope to accomplish during the meeting, then ask them an open-ended question designed to get them talking. An open-ended question is any question that cannot be answered with a yes, or a no. The best open-ended questions usually begin with who, what, when, where, why and how.
_____6. Once you have asked your question, keep quiet and wait for an answer. Give them a friendly but silent stare to demonstrate that you are willing to wait as long as it takes for an answer. If they don’t give you an adequate response, you can ask more open-ended question in order to clarify your concerns, but then you must wait again for their responses. Passive aggressive people feed off of your need to feel gapes of awkward silence, and your need to explain yourself. So above all, do not keep talking. If you do keep talking, you are giving the passive aggressive individual exactly what he or she expects and wants.
_____7. If they still don’t give you a satisfactory explanation for their behavior, go ahead and adjourn the meeting, but be sure to set up a time for the next meeting. Don’t let the passive aggressive think for one moment that you intend to let their behavior off the hook. Usually at this point, the passive aggressive will begin to open up. Passive aggressive people are counting on your inability to wait them out. Once they see that you are willing to politely wait as long as it takes, they will usually open up in order to get you off their back.
_____8. Once they do begin to speak, they may attempt to tell you what you did wrong and how you need to change your behavior. At this point, you should listen to them and question them. However, you should not argue with them, you should not agree with them, and you should not apologize for your behavior-even if they are correct about your behavior needing to change. If you do, you will be rewarding them for the very passive-aggressive behavior that you are trying to correct.
_____9. Instead, respond to everything that they say about you with either paraphrasing, or open-ended questions. For example, if they say that they were hurt by something you did, then gently ask, “Why didn’t you tell me when it happened?” Make them confront and explain their passive-aggressive behavior.
_____10. When the moment comes for you to conclude the interview, try to paraphrase what the passive aggressive has told you and then ask a close-ended question regarding how you both will behave in the future. Close-ended questions are any question that must be answered with a yes or no, and they are designed to achieve agreement. Remember that paraphrasing is not agreeing; it merely demonstrates that you have heard the speaker correctly.
The most important thing, while dealing with any passive aggressive, is to not let them pull you off course. In other words, don’t let them pull you into inattentive, erupting, pessimistic, defensive, complaining, or passive aggressive behavior.
Remember that these people act the way they do because their actions have worked for them in the past. You can’t change their actions, so your best choice is to make their actions ineffective on you. Once they notice that their tactics don’t work on you, they will hesitate before using them on you again. And with some people, the best that you can achieve is not allowing them to swamp your boat.
Get on with becoming the best you that you can be, so that you can begin to attract the best that life has to offer…