Rather than directly addressing his negative feelings, a passive-aggressive man will look to avoid open conflict by expressing such emotions in an indirect manner. This behavior can be extremely problematic, especially since what a passive-aggressive man says and what he actually does can be two very different things. If you're concerned that a man you're dating, working with, or is a friend or family member has a passive-aggressive personality, look for these warning signs.
He Isn't Honest
Dishonesty is a common manifestation of passive-aggressive behavior. A passive-aggressive man will avoid giving an honest opinion about something when asked, says executive coach Muriel Maignan Wilkins in an article for the Harvard Business Review. He'll also give responses like, "Whatever you want to do is fine with me," when in reality, it's actually not fine with him. If he gives you positive verbal cues and then proceeds to sulk or display some other negative behavior, he's expressing himself in a passive-aggressive manner.
He's a Saboteur
If you find that he makes frequent errors when he's doing something you asked him to, it's a clear sign that he has a passive-aggressive personality, warns retired psychologist and media personality Dr. Phil McGraw in his article "How to Spot and Deal With Passive-Aggressives" on his website. He's angry, but rather than say "no" to you, he'd prefer to trip you up in front of your boss or "forget" to tell you that he can't pick up your mom from the doctor.
Sarcasm Is His Weapon
Plenty of people employ sarcasm as a way to be humorous, but the passive-aggressive guy will use it as a socially acceptable way to be mean, says social worker Signe Whitson in "10 Things Passive Aggressive People Say" for Psychology Today. By expressing his hostility sarcastically, it frees him up to defend himself with a, "I was only joking," when you (rightfully) get offended.
He's the King of the Silent Treatment
The silent treatment is a classic weapon in the arsenal of the passive-aggressive personality. A passive-aggressive man will frequently use silence to show you that he's angry about something, or that he disagrees with you, says stress and performance coach Carthage Buckley on the website coachingpositiveperformance.com. By giving you the silent treatment, he can let you know that not only does he have a problem with you, but he's going to take it out on you by refusing to let you know what it is. No amount of probing questions will move him, either.
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- Mayo Clinic: What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior? What Are Some of the Signs?
- Harvard Business Review: Signs You're Being Passive-Aggressive
- Dr. Phil: How to Spot and Deal With Passive-Aggressives
- Psychology Today: 10 Things Passive Aggressive People Say
- Coaching Positive Performance: 8 Examples of Passive Aggressive Behaviour
- Eyecandy Images/Eyecandy Images/Getty Images