Your suspicions are correct: their attacks ARE intentional and meant to hurt.
When it comes to dealing with passive aggressive people, we are often left scratching our heads, and asking ourselves: was that thing they just did or said intentional — or a reasonable mistake? Did they just not get around to responding to my email, or maybe they forgot? Was that comment meant to be cutting or critical, or was it just a bad choice of words? Wait, did I just misunderstand?
The one vital clue that you're dealing with a passive aggressive person: this type of behavior is repeated over and over.
Passive aggressive people don't make mistakes. They act intentionally.
The hallmark of a passive aggressive attack is that it's thought through to be indirect and covertly delivered. It's the cowardly, lily-livered and chicken-hearted way of addressing an issue — the attack sneaks up on you from behind. Yes, it's shrouded in fancy words or slight-of-hand actions, but it will still hit you hard like a gut punch.
Passive aggression comes in MANY forms.
But here's where it gets tricky, because the mask of the passive aggressive has many shapes and colors. Get ready for this parade of go-to-favorites most commonly used by this personality type:
Procrastination, forgetfulness, rumor mongering, indirect criticism, outright sabotage, silent treatment, intentional obstruction and inefficiency, stubbornness, neglect, victim-hood, being argumentative, exhibiting general negativity ...
Author Dr. Sam Vaknin writes that, "passive-aggressiveness has a lot in common with pathological narcissism: the destructive envy, the recurrent attempts to buttress grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience, the lack of impulse control, the deficient ability to empathize, and the sense of entitlement, often incommensurate with its real-life achievements."
What can you do to deal with the passive aggressive population?
Early on, as soon as you identify it, confidently assert yourself. Call it out. If you don't set the tone early on in the relationship the negative behavior will continue and it will intensify. Who needs that?
Don't let yourself get caught out in the dark with this personality type. Bring things out in the open. Take your conversations and interactions to a formal level where you have third party witnesses and documentation.
Hold on to that email or text thread. Put as many things in writing as you can and you will clearly be able to identify the patterns of covert aggression.
Document your conversations, interactions, issues and agreements. That way if things take a cowardly turn and you're targeted as the bad guy, you have all the proof in black and white to fact check. Who's the bad guy now?
Gotcha! How do the passive aggressive react when they're caught, red handed?
Of course, they will always try to make you look like the bad guy. When called out, they will usually deny their aggression, or make excuses, or point the finger at you. Expect those responses.
When pressed, I've heard passive aggressive people admit that their sneaky tactics were indeed thought out and intentional. It's their way of levying anger and aggression at you hoping that you won’t catch on.
I don't know about you, but I know that I'd rather catch a direct hit to my face where I can see it coming and defend myself, rather than get sucker-punched from behind.
You deserve a peaceful life, so leave these toxic people out of it.
Keep your distance. You can't change them. Their aggression hurts. They will disrupt your personal peace. End of story.
Joan Jerkovich is a board certified life coach who hosts "The Joan Jerkovich Show" on AM talk radio where she coaches her callers on every topic imaginable. Click here to listen to her Podcasts, be a caller on her show, or buy her Life Coaching Insights book series and inspirational posters.
This article was originally published at http://joanjerkovich.com/2015/08/31/identify-and-manage-a-passive-aggressive-personality/. Reprinted with permission from the author.