Most passive-aggressive people have usually learnt this form of communication /behaviour from their parents or a parent. I find one of the major reasons for passive-aggressive behaviour is essentially conflict avoidance. The thought of getting into a fight that you probably won’t win makes your tummy turn. It is easier to let the other person know how you are feeling through sulking, withdrawing, or the silent treatment than risk getting into a conflict.
Why might people be so conflict-avoidant? It could be that the person has grown up with a lot of conflicts that were messy and unhealthy, giving them a very valid fear of conflict. Over time, in a safe environment, we can learn to have healthy disagreements and conflicts.
The other major reason for passive-aggressive behaviour is that there has been a conflict or heated discussion which has ended in disagreement. To communicate how upset you are about the unresolved issue, you become passive-aggressive. This might be because you don’t feel further communication will help, you don’t feel heard, or you just don’t agree with the other person.
If you find yourself being passive-aggressive, the first step is to get clear about why you are upset. Write down EXACTLY what it is (nothing too vague here). Take some time to think about the issue from the other person’s perspective. How might they be feeling? Are they feeling heard? Is PART of what they are saying true? Which part? Where could there be a win/win for both of you in this situation? If you were thinking outside of the box, what other solutions could exist?
I hope you find these prompts useful.
Much love on your healing journey.