It’s lunch time and you try to avoid seeing anyone in the break room as you know what’s going on in there. The sharks are circling and trying to get any bit of juicy gossip they can feast on…in order to draw more sharks in.
It’s possible you might not even be aware of what is happening as snide comments are masked, and you are left feeling like you were just complimented and insulted at the same time. Maybe they even said “Relax. I’m just kidding.” Like that takes away the sting of their hostility. The truth is, it doesn’t. They know that what they said was carefully crafted to hurt. These people have spent years acting this way and to be honest, might have been raised in a home that used tactics in passive-aggressive warfare.
Passive-aggressive behavior is actually masked in sarcasm, silent treatment, withholding praise, being critical yet complimentary at the same time, arriving late, procrastinating or avoiding responsibility altogether, and basically sugar-coating mean remarks and hostility.
You can be sure of one thing. This is open hostility towards you.
If you noticed any of the above red flags of passive-aggressive co-workers, friends, or even family, it might be hard to deal with. As a matter of fact, you might just want to shut down, but that’s exactly what they are after so I am going to give you a few tips on how to handle this.
5 Ways to Deal with Passive-aggressive Folks:
- Name it for exactly what it is. Do NOT let them make excuses for why they treat you this way. “Oh you can’t take a joke. I was only playing.” In order to make you think it’s your fault. The truth is, they can feel when their behavior is wrong. If someone is using shaming tactics, being unreasonable, making you feel uncomfortable deliberately, trust me, they know. This is a repeated pattern.
- Shore your boundaries. You can’t change them; however, you can change how you interact with them and how much. Notice where they hang out and who they hang with. That says loads about them. Look them in the eye if they are speaking down to you, and stand up straighter. Give visual and body language clues by making sure your shoulders are back and your head is held high that you are having none of their crap today. Or any other day. You don’t want or need that “energetic pooh” in your life. << That links to my clean energy tips and what “energy pooh” really is.
- Notice how you are being and what triggers them. If you are having a great day, got a great review, the boss patted you on the back or you got special notice, chances are, they’re probably jealous. Yup. Triggers their insecurities and bitterness. I jokingly said today on my FB Live chat “Mama always liked you best” from the Smother’s Brothers, but it is a true trigger for some people. Whether or not it happens to be true, the person who uses hostile words masked as “fun” is feeling left out or unloved.
- Maintain your composure during the “dig”. Now is the time to practice RBF…resting bitch face. Only the eyebrows move up a notch, but you just look at them and say nothing. You aren’t going to change them, but staring at them for a minute usually makes them say more. If all else fails, you can use humor, or simply walk away. Want a bit more on what they are trying to do here? You can read 5 Ways to Spot an Emotional Manipulator. Or if guilt seems to be used try reading When Guilt is a Weapon. << opens in new tab.
- Be mindful of yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of silly little games, but your weapon can be mindfulness. How is arguing with them going to help? What are they trying to gain from this? Making you look bad. If you engage, they are trying to poke the bear so to speak. Oh look at what so and so said to me…can you believe it? They will conveniently leave out all indication they said anything at all. Just remember that words can be twisted but if you simply look at them and walk away, they have nothing to use against you.
Looking for a supportive group to build yourself up? Find out more here. << Click on I need support.