The Passive-Aggressive Person, A Huge Manipulator: 3 Things You Should Know

If in our environment there is a passive-aggressive person, we should make sure to help them. Instead of distancing ourselves from them, let us try to help them find a solution to the frustration found within them.
The Passive-Aggressive Person, A Huge Manipulator: 3 Things You Should Know
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

The passive-aggressive personality in reality is a personality disorder.

The main behavioral characteristics reside in constant stubbornness, acting defiant to others demands and always having a negative or defeatist attitude.

Living with them is as complicated as is exhausting.

As usual with personality disorders, some have less characteristics while others have them all.

However, their ability to manipulate is so agile that relationships with someone with a personality disorder are always distinguished by great suffering and unhappiness.

It’s possible you may be living with one of these kinds of people. You may even have a family member or fellow worker with this type of disorder.

If this is the case, it is recommended that you know there are confrontation strategies that exist and adequate psychological therapy with which this negative behavior can be reduced.

Today in our space, we want to help you learn a little more about this kind of disorder.

1. What Characteristics Does a Passive-Aggressive Person Show?

passive-aggressive person

To start off, something we should make clear is that not every person with this disorder displays each of the behaviors we will  be mentioning in continuation.

However, what a passive-aggressive person always evidences is an agile ability to put into practice a considerable hostility “covered with sugar on top”.

In other words, they’re capable of harming us in a compassionate way pretending to care. However, in reality, deep down there is a desire to humiliate, control or ridicule.

Therefore, these are some of the most basic characteristics:

  • Passion for criticizing others. There’s no reality, person or ordinary nuance that will escape a good criticism.
  • When we truly know them, we find out that they always seem to be displeased or angry about something.
  • However, when they desire something from us, they’ll not hesitate to act loving, thoughtful and as warm as possible.
  • They intentionally forget things in order to not assume responsibilities.
  • They’re cynical.
  • They show a curious ability to blame others, although it was their responsibility.
  • They usually act as victims (they say they’are the least valued, least respected, least happy, etc.)
  • They hate authority.
  • They ignore others’ suggestions.

2. What Lies Behind This Kind of Personality?

What Lies Behind This Kind of Personality?

This is the first thing that comes to mind: “Why do they act this way if in the long run they’re only going to get more frustration and dysfunctional relationships out of it?”

Here are some explanations for this:

  • Generally, they are people who are raised in a family in which adequate expression of affection isn’t practiced.
  • They weren’t taught how to channel rage, or vent their anger.
  • They have a low self esteem.
  • Little by little, they’ve noticed that by controlling others and assuming an authoritative position, their flaws are masked.
  • Meanwhile, at some point in their lives they noticed that when displaying kind and loving behavior, they often get what they want.
  • They don’t know how to manage their negative emotions. 
  • By not being able to do so, their rage intensifies along with the sensation that the world is unfair and that no one understands them.

3. How To Treat A Passive-Aggressive Person

How To Treat A Passive-Aggressive Person

Most likely, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to deal with a passive aggressive person is to simply run away from them.

However, this is not correct, for various reasons.

After all, we can’t or shouldn’t always run away from what seems too complicated for us to handle.


  • The first thing we should do is UNDERSTAND. Understanding the basics of this disorder will help a lot.
  • Second, don’t give into its control. It’s necessary to put  the consequences of their actions on the table and your will to give in to what you don’t like or what isn’t logic.
  • Lastly, you can’t forget that what nourishes the roots of a passive aggressive person is a low self esteem. Therefore, something they fear more than anything is being left alone.

Remember To Not Give Into Them

You should be assertive with them, be reasonable and suggest options to their behavior.

  • “If you talk to me with cynicism, I will  not trust you, respect me.”
  • “If you keep being so negative, the only thing you will obtain is to isolate yourself in your fears.”
  • “Instead of always criticizing and noticing my defects, show me you’re capable of seeing something good in me.”

Suggest They Seek Professional Help

The passive aggressive person suffers an accusing syndrome of inferiority. Essentially, it’s an immature management of their emotions and a very low self-esteem.

No one is capable of being social or truly happy with these weaknesses and limitations. Therefore, it’s fundamental to gather courage and ask for professional help.

For example, cognitive-behavior therapy is very recommended for these cases.

It’s also necessary to remember that a passive aggressive person is not ill. He or she is just a person who, in the midst of their armor and manipulative behavior, is hiding a very fragile soul that yearns for help.

Let’s try to lead them into making the right choice for their well-being. Let’s help them clearly volunteer to want to better themselves through therapy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.