3 Surprising Reasons Being Passive Aggressive Makes You MORE Stressed

“What’s wrong?”




Ahhh, the classic passive aggressive response. We don’t like it when it’s done to us, yet sometimes we resort to some good old passive aggression because it seems easier than telling the truth or getting into an uncomfortable conversation.


Being passive aggressive may feel like an easy way out when you’re just too stressed (or miffed) to talk, but it has several negative consequences. One main reason to avoid passive aggressive behavior is that people often know that’s what you’re doing, and they resent it. No one likes to be treated passive aggressively by their spouse, partner, colleague, or boss. But besides being frustrating for others, passive aggressiveness can also cause some unintended stress for you.



  • Your frustration will find another outlet to escape. Research into “venting” shows that frustration which never has a release will eventually bubble over. Your passive aggressiveness may spare you a fight on a particular day, but it’s likely to come back to haunt you somewhere you least expect it.


  • Passive aggressiveness diminishes your power. “Self-efficacy” is the name given to our belief in our ability to exert some amount of control over a situation. When you combine denial and refusal to confront an issue head-on (which is what passive aggression really is), you give up some of your personal power. Do that enough times, and it takes a real toll on your self-efficacy and your belief in yourself.


  • Denial is like growth hormone for your problems. When you respond to a situation with passive aggressiveness, you let the problem linger. The longer a problem lingers, the more it has time to grow and build up in your mind. (Haven’t you ever had one side of an angry conversation to yourself in the shower, getting more and more pissed?) Passive aggressiveness gives you and your frustrations time to fester and get bigger in your head than they really are.



Whether at home or at work, passive aggressive behavior has more risks than rewards. Being passive aggressive doesn’t just frustrate those around you, it actually makes you much more stressed out than you have to be. Own up to what’s really bothering you, in a constructive way, and you’ll be doing yourself and everyone around you a big favor.


How do you respond when you really want to be passive aggressive, but know you shouldn’t be? What works for you to keep that instinct at bay?