The trouble is that this behaviour (think indirectly attacking the other person, sabotaging or gossiping about someone, withholding praise, making subtle digs or giving someone the silent treatment) is easy for others to spot and can lead to the very thing you were hoping to avoid: a confrontation.

What’s equally problematic is that passive-aggressive people spend a lot of time thinking about how they’ve been wronged, which causes them emotional and physical distress, such as elevated levels of pain and anxiety.

What To Do Instead

Own it

“Passive-aggressive people often don’t feel entitled to have strong emotions,” says Rosenthal. First, accept that someone has upset you.

MORE: Beat Your Stress Hormone

Check yourself

Next, consider whether you’d be unhappy with someone behaving this way towards you. If so, try taking a more direct tack.

Talk to the mirror

If you struggle with taking action when you’re upset, rehearse your words, recommends psychologist Anthony Tasso, PhD. A couple of dress rehearsals can work wonders.

Voice your needs

Express a mutually beneficial goal (such as making up or clearing the air), then go on to explain your feelings, says Rosenthal.

MORE: Stress Less

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