Dealing With Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Dealing With Passive-Aggressive Behavior - Introvert Whisperer

I had someone ask me a great question this week. “What do you do with a passive-aggressive person that makes snotty remarks, sighs and rolls their eyes?”  I’d love to hear what your solutions are to this question.


While I think most of the time you simply ignore someone who does this, you do have to think through whether or not that type of behavior should be allowed to continue. It’s not productive and as the recipient, it feels disrespectful.  It does nothing to solve problems or build a relationship.  All it does is repel you as it’s not comfortable being around someone who does this.  Eventually, it will negatively impact how you do your work.


People that are passive-aggressive don’t feel empowered to directly confront concerns they have – for whatever reason.  Maybe they don’t know how to comfortably address issues they have with you or are concerned that if they do, they will damage the relationship.  The deal is, they don’t realize they are damaging the relationship by their behavior.


Here are a couple of my suggestions:

  • Act confused and ask for clarity. “I’m confused.  By your reaction, it seems something has you upset but I’m not sure I know what it is.  Could you let me know?”
  • Be transparent and describe what is going on. “I can tell from the eye rolling you’re doing that you must disagree.  Let me know if you see issues that I may not be aware of.” Or “I doubt that your comment was designed to really solve a problem.  Do we have a problem that needs to be discussed?”


Passive-aggressive behavior is a learned behavior.  That means that a person that does this sort of thing may not stop what they are doing.  I do think you train people on how you want to be treated and if you allow someone to do something repeatedly to you that goes against your values, it will continue and get worse.  They will think twice before attempting it with you again if you confront the behavior in a constructive way.


No, it would be great if everyone were upbeat and happy each day you go to work, but that’s not always possible.  I hope this gives you a few ideas if or when this happens to you.

Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleashing your professional potential. Introvert Whisperer


About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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