Everyone has dealt with passive-aggressive behavior at one point or another in their lives, but women of color experience this more often. Anyone who knows a passive-aggressive person or has been exposed to their behavior knows that they are majorly unreasonable, uncomfortable to interact with, and rarely if ever, express their hostility directly. Usually, behavior only intensifies after awhile. So what is the best way to deal with a passive-aggressive person? Here are some ideas.
For the sake of your sanity, it is best not to engage with a passive-aggressive person. If you notice that someone is intentionally going out of their way to put up obstacles and make life difficult, the dynamic can become toxic. Try as much as possible to distance yourself from the situation and try not to personalize or internalize it. Certainly, this will require the skill of "growing a thick skin," but once you let the passive aggression ricochet off of you, it will have less of an impact on you.
Passive-Aggressive Behavior Is Never About You
Many passive-aggressive people want you to believe that their behavior is your fault, and it is not. It is important to assert within yourself that none of the aggressor's behaviors is your fault. Remembering this is the key to reducing hurt and snapping back or acting out of character in turn. Sometimes, when a passive-aggressive person is confronted, they may either become enraged or gaslight you by denying it all and turning the blame on you. Keep it at the back of your mind that it is not about you.
Always Stay Calm
Passive-aggressive people want you to react, and that is the premise of their behavior, but an emotional reaction will only exacerbate the situation and serve as an ego boost for them. The best way to react to passive-aggressive behavior directed at you is to remain composed to diffuse the situation.
Experiment with Assertive Communication
Assertive communication is the direct opposite of passive-aggressive communication and is a much more effective way to get a message across. The next time someone tries to be passive-aggressive, assert your thoughts by interjecting and saying something like: "I'm not sure that I agree with that." or "I am not so comfortable with that."
Seek professional help
It can be challenging to ask for help regarding passive-aggressive habits you have been exposed to; however, a licensed therapist can help you navigate the situation and empower you with the tools you need to advocate for yourself and become more assertive.