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How to Manage Passive-Aggression | Affinity Health

Affinity Health is a leading provider of affordable medical insurance and high-quality healthcare. Here are their views on passive aggression and its treatment options.

Do you remember the movie ‘The Break-Up’ starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn? This movie starts with the couple breaking up. But they refuse to let go of their shared home until someone else buys it. Living together after breaking up led to some considerable tension. Passive aggression worsens a communal living experience.

What is Passive-Aggression?

Abrasive. Confusing. Relationship-damaging. Passive aggression encompasses all these characteristics and more. It is an intentional and concealed form of expressing feelings of anger and rage. Why is passive aggression so prevalent in our interpersonal relationships? Many of us believe that expressing ourselves is not good. Keeping quiet restricts free, honest and direct expression.


“Learning the art of anger management is a good thing. But hiding anger can cause passive-aggression,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “Passive aggression isn’t a mental illness – but it is a personality trait. It is important to realise that it can be harmful. It can damage your personal and professional relationships.”


Passive aggression includes indirect and subtle actions. Passive-aggressive people tend to resist requests or demands from family and friends. They procrastinate, postpone events or meetings, sulk or act stubborn.

What are the Signs of Passive-Aggression?

Sometimes, recognising your unhealthy behaviour can be challenging. But we can all take a step back and examine our behaviour from another point of view.


Here are some ways you can reflect and take accountability:
  • Do you tend to sulk when someone has upset you?
  • Are you someone who avoids people who make you angry?
  • When you’re irritated with someone, do you give them the silent treatment?
  • Do you procrastinate to punish others?
  • Do you resort to sarcasm to avoid participating in meaningful conversation?

How to Deal with Passive-Aggression

Do you believe your passive aggression is wreaking havoc on your relationships? There are steps you may take to improve your interpersonal relationships. Here are three ways of dealing with passive aggression.

1. Increase Self-Awareness:

Passive aggression might occur because you might not understand how you are feeling. Begin by observing what is happening. Then ponder how you may respond before you react to various people and situations.

2. Allow Time to Adjust:

Recognising your behaviour is an excellent initial step toward change. But changing your patterns and reactions might take time. Taking a moment of silence and stepping away from a heated situation works. Move to a place where you can sit with your thoughts and reframe.

3. Experiment with Self-Expression:

Understanding your emotions and developing acceptable ways to express them is essential. Conflict is an inescapable aspect of life. But you can express yourself with respect.

Passive aggression is harmful. But there is a high likelihood that we all do it sometimes. It starts with being honest enough to admit when you need help. “Learning how passive aggression works will free your family,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

Learn More: Domestic Violence Awareness

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of affordable medical insurance. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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