Not all anger expresses itself as yelling, hitting, cursing, heart pounding, palms sweating or huffing and puffing. Anger comes in many sizes and shapes, one of which I refer to as “camouflage anger”. It’s most common name is passive/aggressive. Well disguised and covert, it can be difficult to detect yet can cause severe damage in the most subtle ways. Those afflicted are often unaware that they are angry and those being targeted are hard-pressed to accurately identify it. They simply know that what is transpiring doesn’t feel comfortable.
Passive/aggressive anger can manifest in the form of bragging, the silent treatment, inappropriate jokes, teasing, sarcasm (yes – sarcasm), undermining, deliberately doing things to annoy another, constructive criticism (there is nothing constructive about it at all – it is designed to hurt), gossip and rumors, refusal to forgive, manipulation, coercion, putting pressure on, body language, and others. Each of these behaviors is designed to hurt, embarrass, humiliate, force to comply, control, degrade or offend. Deeply rooted in fear, passive/aggressives often believe anger is wrong or bad. To be angry reflects on their value as a person. They may feel uncomfortable expressing how they feel and worry about the consequences of their emotions. Rather than be truthful, they disguise their anger as humor, concern, innocence, and such.
When dealing the a p/a, give them the benefit of the doubt. Many truly are living in denial. Address your concerns with the following questions:
1. Are you aware that when you say/do _______, I feel ________?
2. Do you realize that it affects me in _______ way?
3. Please do/say ________ instead.
In this way, you let them know what behavior you find inappropriate and give them an alternative one. Make certain they follow through.
Note: Look closely. You may recognize yourself as a carrier of repressed or denied anger. Work on the self first. The Secret Side of Anger offers great insights and tools. Pick up a copy at http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html.