Passive Aggressive Behavior
and Low Self Esteem



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Most passive aggressive people suffer with low self esteem issues. The other side of this story is learning how to deal with people who have these tendencies. If we do not do this correctly, our esteem can possibly take a nose dive.



Passive aggressive behavior is a personality disorder that should be diagnosed and treated by a health care professional. Whether you think you deal with this issue yourself, or possibly a member of your family, a clinical diagnosis and proper treatment is needed in order to learn how to best manage this situation.

Common Traits of Passive Aggression

What are some common traits?

  • Isolation or pouting without an obvious reason
  • Being sensitive and caring one minute; acting hostile and resentful the next
  • Dismissing your feelings off hand
  • Putting people down in a sarcastic way
  • Avoid discussions about unpleasant topics
  • Deny that they have any problems with their relationships
  • Continue to deny that a problem exists when all the evidence points to the opposite
  • Talk about others in a negative or disparaging way, yet are nice and friendly to their faces
  • Sabotaging efforts of others
  • Manipulation
  • Gossip
  • Planned tardiness

Dealing with Passive Aggressive People

Dealing with this personality is difficult at best, and almost always confusing. When you also are struggling with low self esteem you need to acknowledge that the other person has a problem and understand that it has nothing to do with you personally. Keeping a strong positive mental attitude in order to maintain a healthy self esteem will be essential.

You will find this type of personality in virtually every walk of life. They can be in your family, at your work, even among your friends. A co-worker may sabotage your project, or a family member may gossip about everyone to everybody, yet be the picture of sweetness. Passive aggressive men and women usually have the same traits. Most have a hard time dealing with criticism.


Low self esteem is also an issue with those with passive aggression. Because of this, they fear public confrontation and go about dealing with unpleasant situations behind the scenes. They will lie and deceive in order to get the outcome that they want.

When you find yourself dealing with this type of person, you will need to do your best to keep a positive attitude. If you don’t, you may end up feeling defeated, hurt, sad, and angry. The worse may be that when you address the situation, they usually deny it and then make you feel like the bad guy.

Here are a few tips to help you deal with this personality.( If you are in a serious relationship, it may be necessary to consider couple counseling.)

Don’t argue, try to reason, yell, or beg. Remember, you are an adult and it does no good to try and reason with someone who is trying to manipulate you in a passive way. You will need to show that the situation at hand will not result in their receiving special treatment or rile your emotions.

Do not back down on your decisions. If the passive aggressive “forgets” to do something, do not get upset, just smile and keep going. Over time, this person will begin to understand that their actions will not change your decisions nor your actions.

Directly confront the person about their behavior and ask them if they are angry or upset with you. Remember not to argue or reason, simply ask if there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Most often they will say no, but bringing their actions out can, in time, lessen them.

The balance act will come from you not losing any esteem and not causing your friend to feel rejection from your actions toward their passive aggression. You are not to blame for their actions and should not feel guilty by taking a stand. A proper amount of assertiveness and self esteem will help you as you deal with this.

If you have a goal of boosting your esteem and confidence, then do not play their game. Passive aggressive people have their own set of rules which, in the end, only benefit themselves.

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