Passive aggression: how can a student recognize it and protect himself

Passive aggression

Passive, or hidden aggression is a veiled manifestation of hostility. Instead of directly speaking about their dissatisfaction, the person psychologically harasses you. And you can’t understand why the interlocutor behaves strangely. This behavior can come from parents, friends, classmates, colleagues. From those people in communication with whom direct aggression is unacceptable or unacceptable. Passive aggression can cause stress among students in the class, which makes it hard to focus on writing assignments. In this case, students prefer to pay for essays instead of writing them themselves.

The danger is that you may not recognize hostility towards yourself, and you will take everything personally. This is fraught with a decrease in self-esteem, stress, depression, and other disorders.

We tell you how to catch the interlocutor in hidden aggressiveness, how to react to such behavior.

Why do people do this?

This issue has not been fully studied, but several reasons for latent aggressiveness are now known.


The family is the environment in which the fundamental behavioral traits of a person are born. If parents turn a blind eye to the child’s discontent, do not allow him to speak out, this leads to passive aggression. There are emotions, but there is no direct way out. The child is trying to sabotage the relationship with his parents while remaining “quiet”.

Avoiding open conflict

It is much easier to vent your anger in a hidden form while avoiding quarrels, direct reproaches, and emotional stress. In this case, passive aggression is a conscious choice of a person.


In communication with the manager, colleagues, distant acquaintances, and parents, it is not always acceptable to express your dissatisfaction. And passive aggression is the way out of the situation. It seems that he did not openly say anything bad while relieving emotional tension.


A person is not sure that his hostility is objective. He is afraid of “getting a slap in the face” if he expresses everything openly. He will not be able to stand up for himself and knows that he will lose in an argument if it starts.

What can you hear from a passive aggressor?

In communication with him, you will not understand what is happening, but you will feel a tense situation. Frequent phrases of aggressive people:

“You know what? Do what you want”;

“It’s okay! Nothing happened!”;

“Think for yourself what happened”;

“Well, yes, how could I have thought that everything would be different. It was to be expected”;

“I was joking! You have no sense of humor if you’re offended.”

Passive aggression can also manifest itself in actions:

  • intentionally poor execution of rules, bringing objective excuses for ignorance;
  • spilling a drink on your clothes with the words “Oh, sorry”;
  • being late for a meeting, knowing that you are waiting for a person for a long time;
  • disposal of important documents with the words “I didn’t know, I’m sorry.”

These are very tricky moves. The aggressor makes you nervous, while he seems to be out of business. The thoughts in his head can be reduced to something like this: “The more you piss me off, the more often I will mess up. Here, get it!”.

How to behave?

The main task is to bring the interlocutor to an open discussion of the problem. Otherwise, you will suffer from his hidden attacks and psychological pressure.

Stop the interruption of the conversation from the interlocutor. If you are told “Ah, that’s it!”, answer “I want to solve the problem so that such situations do not arise anymore. Tell us what exactly you are not satisfied with, and we will come up with a way out.”

The conversation with the aggressor can go into the past or the future: “You’ve never considered me,” “I can only expect this from you,” “You always do that.” You need to bring the interlocutor back to the Here and Now. To discuss a specific problem, without philosophical reflections.

To maintain a psychological calm, do not take the aggressor’s behavior personally. His grievances are his problem related to the personal perception of your words and actions.

Psychological pressure

Passive aggression is manipulation, a person makes you feel guilty. To avoid this unpleasant feeling, in the future you will do as the interlocutor needs. Direct conversation is not profitable. If you see the situation objectively, then you will have a choice: stop communicating with the person or change your behavior.

Examples of situations

Example 1

You are going to a party with friends. You inform your mother about this, and such dialogue occurs.

Mom: “Sure, you can go…” (with sighs)

You: “What is it?”

Mom: “Nothing. Go get ready.”

You: “I can see something is wrong. Tell me.”

Mom: “Nothing! You’re going to leave anyway, so go.”

What to do?

Explain that you can’t read thoughts, but want to know why Mom is upset. So you can solve the problem. For example, if Mom is worried, you promise to be in touch during the evening. If something happened and she wanted to spend the evening with you, get support, you might consider canceling the party.

If nothing comes out, just go for a walk. You are being manipulated.

Example 2

A friend invited you to visit, but you already have plans for the evening. You refuse, you do it politely. But as soon as you say “sorry, but…”, you are interrupted.

Friend: “I knew it. You always do it.”

You: “What’s wrong?”

Friend: “Nothing! Your plans are more important.”

You: “Well, I’m really busy. Why are you angry?”

Friend: “It’s always like this. It’s annoying that you have important things to do all the time.”

What to do?

Sort out a specific situation with a friend. He didn’t schedule a meeting, and you have really important business. Insults are inappropriate in this case. Ask a friend to invite guests in advance so that you don’t plan anything for the evening.

If nothing comes out, and such manipulations are repeated, and you feel guilty, it makes sense to stop communicating. Friendship is built on mutual respect, and this person does not consider your plans and demands to play by his rules.

Engage in self-development, shoe yourself in psychology. This will help to recognize manipulations and resist them, to achieve mutual respect in communication.

Lillie Byrd

Lillie Byrd is a saving expert for Usevoucher. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor, authored a personal finance book in 2012. She previously was a reporter at Digital Journal, covering consumer products, society, and other business topics. She also has a certificate in finance from Boston University.