Passive Aggressive Behavior and Stress
Passive aggressive behaviour is a kind of 'hidden' abuse that affects our social environment, be it work or personal. With social networking and instant messaging, passive aggression, perhaps, is at a new kind of high. But is this healthy for our stress levels? Can we postpone aggression by refusing confrontation or commitment, and hope that our physical and emotional stress levels won't suffer? Today, we're taking a look at what passive aggressive behaviour has to do with stress, and ultimately our physical health...
What is passive aggressive behaviour? Passive aggressive behaviour is a form of abuse in which the abuser does not confront his or her problems. Instead, a passive aggressive person deals with (rather: Avoids) problems by being evasive, ambiguous, and forgetful or by displaying victim-like behaviour. Essentially, passive aggressive behaviour is the indirect expression of anger by way of deflection and long-term vindictive resentment, rather than confrontation and healthy problem-solving.
While passive aggressive behaviour isn't listed as a personality disorder, it is recognised as a harmful way of dealing with every day real life situations. It is also seen as a form of domestic and professional abuse, since passive aggressive behaviour immediately affects the people that a person is being passive aggressive towards.
"(Passive aggressive behaviour) can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible." - Scott Wetzler
What does passive aggressive behaviour have to do with health? Amongst daily life struggles like work pressure, family commitments, and financial planning, our external environment affects our emotional state. And research has proved time and again, that our emotional states are closely connected to stress, and heart heath. Passive aggressive behaviour is part of a negative stress list of counter-productive work behaviours, which ultimately lead to ill health amongst employees in the long run. Symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, digestive troubles, are all linked to emotional stress.
Here are some symptoms for passive aggressive behavior:
- Unclear communication - seen as a deliberate attempt to alienate people from facts.
- Insecure about competition and dependant
- Making excuses
- Acting like a victim all the time
Causes for passive aggressive behaviour:
- Authoritative parents who did not allow freedom of opinion
- Childhood trauma (drug/alcohol abuse in family)
- Long term subjection to daily negative criticism
How can you combat passive aggressive behaviour? If someone in your immediate environment is subjecting you to passive aggressive abuse, then here's what you can do to solve the caustic situation:
- Do not give in to the passive aggressive blame game. Stay focused on the problem at hand. If it's a work project, then don't let the passive aggression get under your skin. Stay calm and maintain a problem-solving attitude, instead of getting sucked into finger-pointing.
- Once you recognise a person as being passive aggressive, learn how to tackle his or her behaviour pattern. If it's a colleague that evades follow-ups, maintain a record of your interaction. If it is a spouse who evades responsibility, then be very clear about responsibility splits.
- Confront and solve - Most times, passive aggressive people are simply insecure and unable to feel comfortable. Make them feel comfortable, if they matter to you, and help them realise that they can be themselves and voice their opinions in front of you.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images