Ask Ms. Plaid: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Behavior

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Ask Ms. Plaid: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Dear Ms. Plaid:

I need help on how best to handle a friend who is always passive aggressive with me. I know she cares about me and our friendship, so why does she exhibit such behavior?

– Sincerely, Hurt Feelings

Dear Hurt Feelings:

According to Wikipedia the definition of passive-aggressive behavior is the following: Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullen behavior, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.

If this is the behavior of your friend towards you I think the first step is to ask yourself if she is really a friend at all? True friendship is not always good times and happiness, but true friendship is also not about hostility towards one another as well.

Is your friend possibly going through a hard time at the moment?

Often times, especially in truly hurtful moments, it is hard for people to be vulnerable and share their feelings. They might act out to the ones who matter most to them, not because they are angry at them, but because they are dealing with internal conflict that they can’t explain. It might be a good idea to schedule some one on one time with your friend to ask her how she is doing. You might be surprised to find out that she is going through a difficult time and not aware that her behavior is negative because of it. Let her know you care and that you are there for her.

If after speaking with your friend you find out that everything is fine and life couldn’t be better for her, well then you might be dealing with someone who is very aware of her passive aggressive behavior. Before you decide to confront your friend on her behavior and possibly end your relationship, read the tips that Greatist has to say about dealing with passive-aggressive behavior. They might be able to give you new tools on how to deal with your friend, and in turn, make your relationship even stronger.

Best,
Ms. Plaid

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