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How to Overcome the Haters: Dealing With Passive Aggression

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Interested in the self-help genre and psychology, I combine such knowledge with my experience of TBI Recovery and my writing skillset.

Discover how to deal with passive aggression in the workplace or anywhere else in your life.

Discover how to deal with passive aggression in the workplace or anywhere else in your life.

Identifying the Problem

We have all undoubtedly encountered passive-aggressive behavior at one point or another and undoubtedly will again. Thus, it pays to know how to effectively deal with such individuals. Therefore, we will examine why people are passive-aggressive and how to effectively deal with them.

What Is Passive Aggression?

First and foremost, what is passive aggression? According to, passive aggression is "displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)."

A common reason for such hostility is envy. And envy is indeed an insidious emotion, as the individual does not know that they are envious. It is such an undesirable emotion they cannot even admit it to themselves. As author Robert Greene observes in Laws of Human Nature, "Of all the human emotions, none is trickier or more elusive than envy" (272).

Perhaps we are intelligent, or we have accomplished something, causing others to take notice. Whatever the reason, someone close to us may be contemplating where to stick the knife in. They may, for instance, remain close to us as Iago does in Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello—an example of just how destructive envy can be.

Shakespeare's characters Othello and Iago

Shakespeare's characters Othello and Iago

How to Avoid Haters

But how do we avoid such destruction? One important step, of course, is to identify the envious or the "hater." Perhaps she is acting overly friendly, or something else sets your radar off. Or, as author Robert Greene pointed out in an interview (by Ryan Holiday), there are micro-expressions. If, for instance, you are telling a passive-aggressive coworker how your car broke down, perhaps a momentary sign of enjoyment appears on their face.

What Not to Do

What to avoid: Do not enable the individual to push your buttons for so long that you end up reacting angrily or aggressively in front of others. If you do, he has won. And, since envy is such a potential problem, if possible, you might want to create distance between yourself and your hater. (Obviously, this is not always possible or the best option.)

It's important to think before you act.

It's important to think before you act.

Envy Is a Destructive Problem

In conclusion, envy often proves to be a destructive problem. And it is often not identified until it is too late. And it is often easy for the hater to get "under your skin," goading you over time into an irrational response. Instead, act strategically. Life is a chess game; think before moving.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.