Aggressive behavior comes in many forms. I personally have someone very close to me that is in complete denial about their anger. Here is how the day goes with this individual. I walk through the door and get a nasty look. I walk into the kitchen and see all of my pots, plates etc rearranged. I then decide to ignore this and go about my day. I hear doors slam, yelling at the TV and smell loud obnoxious smells coming out of the kitchen. All of these signs and behaviors are telling me that my very close family member is in not the best mood. How about this scenario, have you ever walked into a church event or party and have had this happen… You see people talking under their breath looking at you, no one greets you or shakes your hand, all of a sudden all of the seats in the room are taken! The truth is all of these behaviors are very aggressive or adequately defined as passive aggressive. I want to give you the top 10 communication tips for dealing with aggressive communication.
There is a lot of confusion out there about the differences between outright aggression and passive aggression. Outright aggression can be defined as a spontaneous actions that aim to hurt or destroy someone or something (Long, Long and Whitson, 2009). Passive aggression, a far more deliberate, yet covert way of expressing anger in a way that subtly but surely “gets back at” someone. There are four ways to respond to anger. You can fight, flight, appease or sabotage. The aggressive person fights and often acts on impulse and regrets his behavior in short order, the passive aggressive person typically derives genuine pleasure out of frustrating others.
The 4 ways we respond to anger…
Passive aggressive examples…
Behavior in passive aggressive men and passive aggressive women manifests itself differently but there underlying similarities. A hallmark of the passive aggressive person is that he or she believes life will only get worse if other people know of his anger, so he or she expresses his thoughts and feelings indirectly, through characteristic behaviors as withdrawing from conversations (often with last words such as “fine” or “whatever”), sulking, procrastinating, carrying out tasks at sub-standard levels, sabotaging group efforts, and spreading rumors or discontent behind the scenes.
Passive aggressive behaviors are used to avoid confrontation of short-term conflict, but in the long-term, these dynamics can be even more destructive and result in feeling of resentment and anger. Ultimately, resentment and anger often then turns into aggression.
Have you ever heard the old saying misery loves company? Well if someone is being driven by insecurities, bitterness and immaturity, aggressive behaviors can rear their ugly head. What is passive aggressive communication? Here is a list of communication techniques that passive aggressive people use. Here are 8 examples of being passive aggressive…
- Sabotaging the efforts of others.
- Blaming others for personal failures and is always the victim.
- Exaggerating misfortunes.
- Complaining of feeling unappreciated or misunderstood.
- Takes hidden action to get back at someone.
- Goes to self-destructive lengths to seek vengeance.
- Avoiding work and social obligations, often making excuses.
- Says they will do something, but carries it out in an unacceptable manner.
Examples of aggressive communication…
Now, here are some tips to consider when dealing with aggressive people. Someone that is behaving aggressively is not afraid of confrontation. An aggressive communication definition is as follows. They are ready to fight, ready for war. Aggressive communication is a form of expression that does not take into account the needs of others. They are ready to win at all costs. They are generally perceived as selfish and unwilling to compromise. We all communicate aggressively at times. However, it is important not to allow this to become your dominate communication style. Here are some examples of aggressive communication…
- Feelings. Those that communicate aggressively are demanding, angry and expressive in an inappropriate way.
- Needs. Typically their own needs are seen as being more important than others. The needs of others may be ignored or dismissed. Aggressive communication behavior is evident.
- Rights. We all have rights, however those that communicate aggressively typically do so in such a way that violates the rights of other people.
- Opinions. They see themselves as having something to contribute and see other people as having little or nothing to contribute.
- Verbal Communication. Individuals that communicate aggressively use strident, firm, cold, harsh, fluent, abrupt, sarcastic, or condescending language. Another characteristic of aggressive communication includes the use of blaming words, threats, and put downs such as “you’d better watch out”, “don’t be stupid”, “you should”, and “I haven’t gotten problems like yours”.
- Short-term Effects. People who communicate aggressively usually get their way, are less vulnerable, in control, release tension, and gain power.
- Long-term Effects. In the long-term, communicating aggressively results in the creation of enemies and resentment in those around you. In addition they develop a sense of paranoia and fear.
10 keys to effective communication…
So how do you deal aggressive people?
- Identify the behavior for what it is: Aggression. Be one step ahead of your enemy. Recognize when someone is being aggressive. When you have developed this emotional intelligence skill you can maintain and regain your composure.
- Get to Know the aggressors History. Understanding that person, will help you understand their behavior. Insights linking past suffering to present demeanor can also put you ahead of the curve. Be calm and pleasant. Ask open-ended, none-judgmental questions about their background, to ascertain whether there may be hidden pain, bitterness or resentment. Aggressive behavior often arises when an individual feels powerless and lacks the skill necessary to voice their opinion. If your presence of actions make that person feel threatened, this is what is at the root of their hostility towards you. Their aggressive behavior is a survival strategy to avoid being victimized again.
- Do not feel guilty. Remember that you’re not to blame for someone else’s behavior.
- Refuse to play their game.Because a passive-aggressive personality doesn’t know how to respond appropriately to conflict, he or she will most likely deny everything. It’s important to express your concerns and anger, but stick to the facts at hand and how his or her actions make you feel. Don not let them get away with treating you poorly. Not confronting the passive-aggressive behavior will only reinforce it. Confront the person immediately and let him or her know you are confused by the behavior. If they value the relationship, he or she has to stop the behavior. Try to create an atmosphere in which he or she might feel more comfortable sharing feelings of anger, resentment, fear, etc.
- Allow for natural consequences. Denial, excuse making, and finger pointing are inevitable. The only way to deal with this behavior is to take a step back. Take yourself out of the argument and allow for natural consequences. You take yourself out of the argument but not fueling the negativity with name calling, aggression, or by bringing up the past. Regardless of what they say, declare what you’re willing to do going forward. Importantly, offer one or more strong consequences to compel the passive-aggressive to reconsider his or her behavior. A strong consequence may be limiting your time with that person and not enabling or picking up their pieces.
- Be Assertive. Be straightforward and honest but not rude so that you can make your point effectively. Focus on how to be assertive not aggressive. Don’t apologize and give elaborate reasons for saying “no”. It is your right to say no if you don’t want to do things. Remember that it is better in the long run to be truthful than to harbor resentment and bitterness within yourself. You need to tell them what you need. Otherwise people cannot fulfill your needs and this can lead to resentment and misunderstanding. Tell the person that if they fulfill your needs, there will be a positive consequence for both of you. Be specific about the positive consequences. Seek out additional assertive communication tips and skills.
- Use Humor. Interrupt their passive aggressive behavior with a joke. Tell them something complete funny or talk about your day and make light of the situation. By doing this you take the power out of their actions. They are trying to frustrate you. If they can see your frustration they have completed their task. Therefore showing them that you are not bothered by their actions ruins their plan of getting under your skin.
- Keep Your Distance and Keep Your Options Open. When you feel your temperature rising. Anchor your self with a code word. Walk away from the situation. I have a lot of clients whom chase their significant other around the house until they feel the problem is resolved. This often adds fuel to the fire. When your emotions are high this will only make things worst. If the person is causing you a lot of stress maintain your distance and keep you escape options open.
- Do Your Best to Not Take Things Personally. What other say and do, is them projecting their own reality onto you. Know what triggers or fuels your anger, download this free tool here! It takes work and skill building, but by becoming immune to the opinions and actions of other you take back control, power, and peace over your life.
- Uphold Your Rights. When dealing with a difficult person is to know your rights, and recognize when they’re being violated. It your right to stand up for your rights. Upholding your rights is how you develop a assertive vs aggressive communication style.
- You have the right to be treated with respect.
- You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
- You have the right to have opinions different than others.
- You have the right to make mistakes.
- You have the right to ask for what you want, rather then hope someone will automatically know what you want.
- You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
- You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.
Aggression is bad for the aggressors as well as the recipients of the aggression. Emotional or physical force is often used so that the rights of others are not even allowed to surface. Others feel victimized and relationships suffer. As a result, aggressive individuals tend to cause others stress and experience increased levels of stress themselves, as their relationships tend to be conflicted and their personal goals not as often achieved. Consider these communication tips for the workplace, your relationships with family and friends and with your children.Need help dealing with someone that communicates aggressively all the time? Download our free Anger Management Tool Here!