I found a great article by Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor, that includes a 12-point checklist you can complete to determine if you are too passive aggressive.
If you are lucky, you have friends or co-workers willing to bring this behavior to your attention. Unfortunately, a lot of passive aggressive behavior occurs in the workplace and many co-workers are not comfortable having what can quickly turn into an uncomfortable conversation. As a result, the passive aggressive person is marginalized and begins to develop a bad reputation. The terms usually assigned are “not a team player”, “drama queen”, “difficult to work with” and “negative”.
How do you know if you are seen as passive-aggressive? Aside from the obvious wake of people who won’t get close to you, there are certain things to think about to determine if your behavior is truly passive-aggressive or not. Although men and women express their passive-aggressive behaviors somewhat differently, generally, you are behaving in passive-aggressive ways if you are regularly:
- Unwilling to speak your truth openly, kindly and honestly when asked for your opinion or when asked to do something for someone. How this shows up in communication is being “assertively unassertive.” You say “Yes” (assertive) when you really mean “No way” (unassertive). Then, you let your behavior say “No way” for you. People become confused and mistrusting of you.
- Appearing sweet, compliant and agreeable, but are really resentful, angry, petty and envious underneath. You are living with pairs of opposites within, and that is making those around you crazy.
- Afraid of being alone and equally afraid of being dependent. This is the case of “I hate you. Don’t leave me.” You fear direct communication because you fear rejection. You then often push away the people you care about because you don’t want to seem in need of support. All the while, you are afraid of being alone and want to control those around you so they won’t leave you. Very confusing!
- Complaining that others treat you unfairly frequently. Rather than taking responsibility for stepping up and speaking your truth, you set yourself up as the (innocent) victim. You say others are hard on you, unfair, unreasonable and excessively demanding.
- Procrastinating frequently, especially on things you do for others. One way of controlling others is to make them wait. You have lots of excuses why you haven’t been able to get things done. You even blame others for why that is so.
- Unwilling to give a straight answer. Another way of controlling others is to send mixed messages, ones that leave the other person completely unclear about your thoughts, plans or intentions. Then, you make them feel wrong when you tell them that what they took from your communication was not what you meant. Silly them!
- Sulking, withdrawing and pouting. You complain that others are unreasonable and lacking in empathy when they expect you to live up to your promises, obligations, or duties. Passive-aggressive women favor the silent treatment as an expression of their contempt.
- Frequently feeling inadequate but covering it up with superiority, disdain or hostile passivity.
- Often late and/or forgetful. One way of driving people away is to be thoughtless, inconsiderate and infuriating.
- Dragging your feet to frustrate others. Again, a control move somewhat like procrastinating, but the difference is you begin and appear as though you are doing what you said you would do.
- Making up stories, excuses and lies. You are the master of avoidance of the straight answer. You’ll go to great lengths to tell a story, withhold information, or even withhold love and affirmation in your primary relationships. It seems that if you let folks think you like them too much, that would be giving them power. You’d rather be in control by creating a story that seems plausible, gets them off your back, and makes reality look better from your viewpoint.
- Constantly protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are of being inadequate, imperfect, left, dependent or simply human.