Passive-aggressive behavior is when one person is subtly aggressive towards another. This behavior aims to punish or retaliate to a perceived slight. A person exhibiting this behavior will use passive-aggressive actions rather than communicating their dissatisfaction with words. When you have been the target of this behavior, you may not realize that a person’s hostility was purposeful. You may be left wondering why the person treated you poorly. Was it an accident? Are you being too sensitive?
1. Why Do People Behave Passive-aggressively?
People use passive-aggressive behavior for different reasons. A person may not typically behave this way, but occasionally they will exhibit this behavior. According to licensed social worker Signe Whitson, there are seven reasons why people act this way.
- We are taught showing anger is unacceptable
- Sugarcoated angry responses are acceptable
- Aggressiveness is more difficult
- Easy to rationalize behavior
- Revenge feels good
- Feel powerful