Therapist reveals common ways people express passive aggressive anger

Are YOU guilty of being passive aggressive? Therapist reveals the 8 bad habits – from withholding positive feedback to being flaky with texting back

  • London-based therapist Abby Rawlinson shares mental health content online 
  • She discussed how people express passive aggressive anger in Instagram post
  • Revealed eight common ways, including ‘hurtful teasing disguised as joking’
  • Other ways include giving backhanded compliments and poor listening 

A therapist has revealed eight common ways people express passive aggressive anger – from withholding positive feedback to giving backhanded compliments.

London-based therapist Abby Rawlinson regularly shares information about mental health topics with her more than 124,000 followers on Instagram.   

In one post, she discussed passive aggressive anger, explaining what it is, and how it may be expressed. 

Abby wrote: ‘Being passive aggressive isn’t about being malicious.

‘It’s often a strategy people use when they think they don’t deserve to speak their minds or they are afraid to express their anger.’ 

A therapist has shared eight common ways people express passive aggressive anger in a post on Instagram (stock image) 

The first common way people may express passive aggressive anger that Abby listed was hurtful teasing disguised as joking. 

Next on her list was people withholding positive feedback. Poor listening was the third common way people express passive aggressive anger on Abby’s list.

She followed this with not returning calls, texts, or emails as another way.

8 common passive aggressive ways of expressing anger 

1. Hurtful teasing disguised as joking

2. Withholding positive feedback

3. Poor listening

4. Not returning calls, texts, or emails

5. Chronic lateness

6. Poor follow through on commitments

7. Inconsistent silent treatment

8. Backhanded compliments 

Chronic lateness also made the list, as did poor follow through on commitments.

The seventh item on the list was inconsistent silent treatment.   

Writing in the comments section of the post, Abby described inconsistent silent treatment as ‘sometimes ignoring you (via text or phone calls etc), and sometimes being in contact’.

She noted that this kind of inconsistent contact ‘leaves you feeling confused about whether they are doing it intentionally or not’. 

Taking the final spot on Abby’s list was backhanded compliments.   

The therapist also asked her followers about their own experiences with passive aggressive anger.

She wrote: ‘Do you recognise any of these behaviours in yourself or in others?’

A number responded, revealing examples of passive aggressive anger that they have witnessed – either from others or themselves.

One wrote: ‘My husband does this to me all the time. I called him out on a insult the other night and he immediately tried to throw it back on me by saying, anyone else would know that’s a joke, you can’t take a joke. I said a joke is meant to be funny.’

Another added: ‘When you express your feelings to the person and they don’t listen. You start to become passive aggressive.’

And a third said: ‘Sigh. I do all of these! Definitely raised to be quiet and behave.’ 

A number of people responded to the post sharing their own experiences, with some saying they recognise some of the behaviours in themselves

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