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How do you deal with passive aggressive individuals?

We all have different personality types.
Some of us are passive, some are assertive, some aggressive, some are passive aggressive.

And at any given time, we may display one or more of these personality traits based on the situation at hand.

I am interested in experiences you might have had or are having with individuals who specifically display a passive aggressive personality.

How do you deal with them at work?
How do you handle them within the family circle?

If you yourself are a passive aggressive person, could you shed light into why you choose to act this way? And also, what kind of people are you the most comfortable around?

Any and all comments are welcomed. I am hoping to learn more about this type of personality so I can better communicate with these individuals.

Thank you.


Closing Statement from W T

Thank you to all who participated in this most wonderful conversation on passive aggressive personalities.

Hopefully all who participated walked away knowing a little bit more about themselves and others.

We cannot change others, but we can certainly change ourselves.

It is in this light, that I started this conversation. My goal was to understand why passive aggressive individuals acted the way they do, so that I can better understand how to treat them and get along with them........your answers shed alot of light into my dilemna.....I am still reading and learning.

Thank you!!!

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    Jan 30 2013: Mary, This first thing in dealing with then is ... what is your position ... and what authority do you have .... we had a superintendent who allowed things to set on his desk and the time limit expired. His actions cost the district and students much. After repeated warnings he was fired and he sued us. The result was that he was paid four years salary and was to be given a favorable recommendation during his job search. This happens to often.

    It is difficult to win in these situations. I would suggest there are ways to insolate their input and influence at the lower level. The work and research is all upon the supervisor / administrator to act to release these types. The most important is documentation. The theory I use is give them enough rope to hang themselves. Give them specific tasks that are commonly assigned and completed by all other staff members. Put them in charge of projects and allow them the opportunity to succeed or fail. Many say walk away .. I say highlight them. It clearly identifies them and makes them chose the path they wish to follow ... it also allows others to see them as they chose to be seen.

    I don't know who said it : When you argue with a fool .. after while it had hard to tell which is which.

    The point being that you should be careful that you do not become the victim here. They set clever traps and you may get caught in one. To them ... this is a game ... to you ... it could be your career.

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • W T 100+

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      Jan 30 2013: Bob, DITTO.........it seems your superintendent of schools was the same one we had six years ago......Our county has never been the same since.

      Your strategies in dealing with these individuals at work are phenomenal.

      In my reading I have discovered that young children also display this PA behavior when wanting to get out of something.

      So, needles to say, I have been on the lookout for it, because, having two school aged kids who are always wanting to get out of something, I need the upper hand...LOL

      I have learned, through my reading that you have to be very specific, and provide details to prevent misunderstandings that can later be used as an excuse to get out of a task.

      And yes, while walking away is a strategy to use......sometimes you need to highlight these individuals. You need to call them out for their behavior. This is what the literature suggests as well.

      The fine line is knowing WHEN to highlight.......

      Extreme PA individuals who have never been helped to see their toxic actions are very clever indeed, and they can easily make you act like a victim..........this is very dangerous , and can destroy you emotionally....not to mention ruining your careet as well.

      Great points Bob. Thank you so much for all the insights and strategies.

      Be Well,
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        Jan 30 2013: Mary, One last note on the Super .. He went to Nevada got another Super job and did basically the same thing. They saw the trend immediately and moved his desk into the hall ... his duties were performed by another person ... he was told not to interact with the kids .... he had to report in to the secretary and report out ... any time spent away from his desk was logged ... the board changed his job description to reflect all of this. Of course he sued. This time his past kept up with him and he lost and his certificate was pulled. Some times you win one.

        I read a book that refered to a method the Japanese use that is called "a window seat". It is basically the same. Your duties are zilch and you are requitred to just set there everyday with no interaction. This is your job and you may quit if you wish ... in shame.

        Perhaps there should be a web site that shows how long a super was there and the reason he left. If the reason is sealed then under reason type "sealed" and the red flag goes up without devulging as required by law. To many bad eggs are out there. This occurs way to often.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
      • Jan 30 2013: Mary, I like your comment; The fine line is knowing when to highlight...
        We should exchange ideas because I am baffled by this question. It costs me 3 jobs in the last decade and after therapy and anti-depressants, which I'm not convince help that much, I'm moving back to BC to find peace on my own. I have made a couple a dear friends there a few years back and they are, except for my 2 kids and with certain limits, the only other people on this planet that I can trust.
        • W T 100+

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          Jan 30 2013: Sylvie, were the jobs you lost due to passive aggressive types affecting your work environment?

          I know you mentioned your entire family is passive aggressive. What about you?

          I hope you read through the entire thread, and really think about what you are reading.

          I suggest also the phychology today site. You can type in "passive aggressive" in the search box and read up on what type of behavior it is, and how to keep the peace with such individuals.

          I started this conversation because I myself have been affected by such personality types. Although all of us at one time or another may act out in such a manner.....there are those that have perfected the fine art of PA behavior, and these individuals can be very toxic, especially in the work field.

          Looking forward to your reply.
          Thanks for your contribution.

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