I found this article on P/A personalities to be the most helpful I've ever come across for those dealing with a P/A person in our lives. My H is P/A and this has helped us a lot!!! Best of luck to everyone!
What is passive aggressiveness?
I act in a passive aggressive way when I:
* hide my hostility by seeming to be nice to someone I dislike, and am unable to be honest with the person.
* say I agree with something but don't follow through because I really don't agree with it.
* act opposite to what others are expecting.
* quietly manipulate to get my own way after voicing a completely different opinion, just to keep the peace.
* seek revenge by agreeing and looking "good", but never following through on my promises.
* tell people what they want to hear, even if I don't believe in what I am saying.
* try to please people by agreeing to their plan of action, yet actually doing the opposite.
* act one way, which is true to my inner feelings, yet say another.
* am out of touch with my inner feelings; the only way to know how I feel about something is to observe my behavior, don't trust my words.
* hate something or someone but am afraid of letting my true feelings show.
* feel pressured to act or believe in a certain way when I really don't want to.
* avoid conflict at all cost by giving in to others, then procrastinate and never do what I agreed to do.
* am angry but afraid to show my anger, so I quietly take my revenge by doing the opposite.
What are the typical reactions to my passive aggressiveness?
When people recognize my passive aggressiveness they:
* are surprised.
* get disappointed.
* get angry.
* are confused by my behavior.
* confront me on my actions.
* realize that I lied to them.
* get frustrated by the inconsistency in my behavior.
* begin to do battle with me, resulting in a conflict greater than the one I originally tried to avoid.
* get upset and fly into a rage and this damages the relationship.
* no longer trust me.
* resent me for being dishonest.
* act in a similar way with me and our communication winds up at a standstill where neither of us "wins.'
* feel challenged by me and in their competitive reaction become more adamant in seeking to achieve what I had originally verbally agreed to with them.
What irrational thinking keeps me being passive aggressive when I disagree with others?
* I must avoid an argument, fight or conflict at all costs.
* I never "win" in confrontation.
* There is no use in opposing them, they are much more powerful than I am.
* I must please people by telling them what they want to hear.
* I never get anywhere by showing my anger openly.
* It's bad to get angry.
* No one wants to know how I feel.
* No one will understand how I feel.
* My problems are unique; I need to hide them since no one would understand.
* I am a loser and failure anyway; why try to defend my position?
* I will never "win" in this situation; why try?
* I enjoy seeing people get blown away by my agreeing with them and then my doing the opposite of what I agreed to do.
* I'd rather back down right away to minimize the damages a fight could bring rather than tell people how I really feel about things.
* It's so hard to be honest with people about how I feel when what I feel is counter to what they want me to feel.
* It's important for people to like and accept me and I say anything just so long as they like me.
* It's not what I do or how I act that is important to people, it is what I say that influences them.
* People will never know I'm angry and disagree with them.
* I hide my feelings well from others.
* Feelings don't count. It is better to deny my feelings than upset another person I am in disagreement with.
* I'd rather lie than get into an argument with someone.
* If I lie about how I feel, others will never know the truth.
How can I recognize when someone is being passive aggressive with me?
I can tell that people are being passive aggressive with me when they:
* always agree with my point of view, even when I am being narrow minded or blind to other alternatives.
* never disagree or argue with my point of view.
* take every opportunity to "put me down" in a humorous or sarcastic way.
* never confront me with their negative feelings.
* avoid discussions about unpleasant topics.
* are always cheerful and upbeat to my face; yet I hear from others how negative they are about me behind my back.
* "yes" me constantly, never disagreeing with anything I say.
* consistently do the opposite of what I thought they agreed to do.
* withdraw or pull away from me whenever I confront them with my anger or negative feelings about them.
* deny that they have any problems with our relationship.
* talk about others in a negative or disparaging way, yet are nice and friendly to their faces.
* demonstrate behavior inconsistent with their words.
* make me feel foolish for expecting one thing from them when they deliver the opposite.
* make me believe I can count on them to do something for me but they never follow through.
* talk with fantasy and magical thinking about how they are going to change, yet the change never occurs.
* show a consistent pattern of exerting no effort toward improving our relationship.
* talk or act irrationally in dealing with a problem, as if it were very easy to overcome and correct.
* minimize the extent of the problems facing us in our relationship.
* tend to patronize me and try to make me believe that I am just imagining problems between us.
* continue to deny that a problem exists when all the evidence points to the opposite.
How can I confront a passive aggressive person?
If others are being passive aggressive with me I can:
* point out the behavior that indicates passive aggressiveness on their part.
* point out the inconsistency between their words and actions.
* pay attention to their actions rather than their words, then give them feedback as to what their actions tell me about their feelings.
* ask for their true feelings reassuring them that it is OK to share negative feelings.
* ask them what has them so intimidated that they fear sharing their feelings with me.
* reassure them that we can reach a "win-win" solution in our communication if we are willing to compromise.
* defuse the competition in our relationship. It doesn't matter "what" we are discussing as long as we respect how each of us "feels" about what we are discussing.
* remain open to any negative feelings they have and let them know this.
* begin to trust what they "do" rather than what they "say" and let them know that I am doing this.
* make myself more accessible to them.
* help them lessen their fear of rejection from me by reassuring them that I really do care.
If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?
To avoid being passive aggressive with others, I can:
* try to be assertive, open and honest with my negative feelings or anger.
* warn people to "read" my behavior rather than my words if they want to know my feelings.
* confront myself with my inconsistent behavior and challenge myself to explain it.
* take the risk to confront my anger assertively and "on the spot" so that I can bring my behavior in line with my feelings.
* work at making my behavior consistent with my feelings.
* change the way I interact with people and make my relationships more honest.
* admit that I have been a liar.
* work at being more honest with people even if it results in a conflict.
* identify the irrational thinking that prevents me from confronting people when I am angry.
* learn how to become assertive with my negative feelings.
* accept that it is OK to have conflict and disagreement.
* learn to compromise and come to a "win-win" solution.
Why is it useful to eliminate my acting passive aggressive?
By eliminating passive aggressiveness when I am angry, I could:
* have deeper, more honest and longer-lasting relationships.
* feel less stress, anxiety and depression in my dealings with others.
* learn to be clear and consistent about my feelings.
* reassure others that they will no longer have to guess how I "really feel."
* stop resorting to lies about my feelings.
* develop self-respect, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
* have more energy because I would no longer be defending myself from powerful, intimidating people.
* have clarity of focus and purpose, working on the things I want rather than what others want for me.
* have fewer people venting their rage on me.
* experience a sense of harmony in my life.
Steps to eliminating being passive aggressive
Step 1: First, I must begin to recognize this behavior when it occurs. To do this, I will answer the following questions in my journal:
A. What is my usual response when I disagree with someone who intimidates me?
B. How do I feel when I am angry or upset with someone who intimidates me?
C. How often do I agree with these people rather than confront them just to avoid conflict?
D. What benefits do I derive by avoiding confrontation?
E. What are my feelings after I have backed down from someone who intimidates me?
F. From whom have I backed down? How successful was this? How often did I go ahead with what I had planned, ignoring what these people wanted me to do? What usually resulted from my failure to follow through with my part of the plan?
G. What do I do now after I've backed down from a disagreement? Am I still passive aggressive? How can I tell? What are the results? How often does this happen?
H. Under what circumstances do I resort to passive aggressiveness?
I. What is involved in these situations? Why do I resort to passive aggressiveness?
J. What are the negative results of my passive aggressiveness?
Step 2: If I find that I am resorting to passive aggressiveness, then I need help to recognize the negative impact it has in my life. To do this I will record the following exercise in my journal.
My Passive Aggressive Ways
Write a story about five separate incidents during which I acted passive aggressive. In each story, detail:
* When it happened.
* With whom it happened.
* What I was angry about or over what we disagreed.
* Why I was intimidated.
* What I did later to show I was being passive aggressive.
* The reasons I acted the way I did.
* How others reacted to my passive aggressive behaviors.
* How others confronted me on how I was acting.
* What they told me about my behavior and how they felt about it.
The final outcome of the situation.
Step 3: I am now ready to confront my past passive aggressiveness and ways I could change it.
Complete the following exercise:
The Other Side of the Story
Write a sequel to each of the five stories from Step 2. In each sequel include:
* What I did differently when I first recognized that I was angry or had negative feelings.
* How I honestly confronted my feelings as being different from my behavior.
* How I made sure that my actions were consistent with my expressed feelings.
* How I gave others permission to "call me on it" if I deviated from my expressed feelings.
* How others handle my being assertive with my anger and/or negative feelings.
* How we resolved the conflict or disagreement that resulted.
* The impact this confrontation had on our relationship.
* How the stress and anxiety of intimidation and power games was eliminated from our relationship.
* How I felt about learning to handle my anger and/or disagreements in a healthy way.
* The benefits of my being direct and assertive in confronting my anger and/or negative feelings with others.
Step 4: Once I've been able to rewrite my passive aggressive behavioral script, I need to apply it. Whenever I am angry or in disagreement with someone, I will strive to follow these tips:
Tips to Overcoming being Passive Aggressive
Tip 1: Tell the person immediately how I am feeling, even if I am angry or in disagreement.
Tip 2: Allow the other to express feelings openly as well.
Tip 3: Ask the other to allow for a compromise "win-win" solution.
Tip 4: Ventilate feelings, then jointly brainstorm solutions.
Tip 5: Arrive at a solution in which we both "win."
Tip 6: Act on solutions in which we both "win."
Tip 7: Make sure my actions are consistent with the agreement.
Tip 8: Make sure my behavior is consistent with my feelings and what I said in the agreement.
Tip 9: Give the other person permission to point out when my behavior deviates from our agreement.
Tip 10: Monitor my emotions and renegotiate our solution if they aren't consistent with our compromise.
Tip 11: Let the other know if I get upset over the compromise with no masking of my feelings.
Tip 12: Confront intimidation openly and honestly.
Tip 13: Insure that our relationship is based on honesty.
Tip 14: Accept the uniqueness and individuality of others, allowing each of us to be ourselves.
Step 5: If I find I am still resorting to passive aggressiveness then I need to return to Step 1, and begin again.
About this Author:
James J Messina, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with more than 35 years of experience counseling individuals and families. Messina, who specializes in adult and children psychotherapy, serves as Director of Psychological Services at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla. He has a private practice in Tampa and is also a member of the American Psychological Association.