Social Skills – Passive Aggression


Adolescents need to not only function practically, such as in job interviews or when dining out, but they also need to protect themselves socially from others’ detrimental behaviors.  This resource focuses on how to handle passive aggressive behaviors from others, which are often subtle in nature yet hurtful.  Students learn to consider others’ perspectives to determine what is motivating the passive aggressive behaviors or statements, how to stick up for themselves, and how different relationships and contexts impel different responses.

SKU: 1050CA063 Category:


Social Skills: Passive Aggression

It is very difficult to deal with passive aggression from others.  But I like to help students learn how to spot it and how to deal with it, because passive aggressive comments and behaviors are hostile and my students don’t deserve hostility.  We start by discussing the name: “aggressive” referring to active hostility and “passive” because the perpetrator wants to engage in belligerent behaviors without being called out.  I give my students examples of insults that sound like compliments, such as “I love that top on you—you don’t look so fat in it”.  Then, for each example listed we discuss how it is hostile (the aggression—often an implied insult or an attempt to embarrass) and how the perpetrator tries to mask the hostility (the passive nature).  We then discuss how to handle the comment or behavior.  I encourage my students to calmly call the other person on the hostility for two reasons: first, I want them to stand up for themselves, and second, getting called on can discourage the perpetrator from attempting passive aggressive comments and behaviors moving forward.  Of course, there can be various circumstances that would deter my students from speaking up, and they need to do what works best for them in any situation.