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How to Effectively Cope with Passive-Aggressive Behavior

June 5, 2016 by Diane

Dear Digby, 

I am exasperated! I serve on the board for a social club; we had one board member who was constantly creating drama, acting passive-aggressive–she acts agreeable in board meetings but then posts quotes on her Facebook page that are digs (that’s her passive-aggressive side coming out) and then screams at the President that she has issue with every point brought out in the board meeting. Her behavior is like that of a middle schooler yet she’s nearing 60. 


I left middle school about 35 years ago, how about you?

Dear I Left Middle School,

Interesting, that this woman who serves on the board of a social club, has the social skills of a mosquito.

First, you need to educate her on how to behave like an adult.

The next time she screams at the president, I advise you, and the entire board, to stick your fingers in your ears and chant, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.”

The woman will do one of three things:

  1. Stop mid-sentence and stare at you, slack-jawed.
  2. Turn red with embarrassment and forget what she was saying.
  3. Pick up her toys, and go home.

If none of your fellow board members are willing to execute this simple solution for an ongoing problem, then I advise the following:

The next time she screams at the president, stare at her for a full five minutes without saying a word. All of you. Her diatribe will hang in the air like thought bubbles in a cartoon.

The woman will do one of three things:

  1. Run out of steam.
  2. Hear what she’s saying, turn red with embarrassment, and stop talking.
  3. Pick up her toys, and go home.

If none of your fellow board members have the fortitude to challenge the woman in a stare-down, then my advice is this:

Unfriend her on Facebook.

Passive-aggressive people are responding from their own hurt. You don’t need to resonate with it. Her opinions are no business of yours. You have better things to do with your time. You have noble pursuits ahead. You are going to make this social club a roaring success!

You can, however, view this woman as an opportunity to practice compassion. Recognize that her behavior is coming from pain, accept it, and observe her actions from a place of non-attachment. With an open heart, watch her mouth moving as if from a great distance.

And then get up, walk over, and smother her in a giant bear hug.

Love your enemies. It pisses ‘em off.

Need advice? Ask Digby! Submit your question via the contact form.


  1. Sue says:

    Brilliant answers! I’ll have to try this at the next Social Club meeting!

  2. Bun Karyudo says:

    All that advice sounds much better than my own method of dealing with unpleasant people, which is to lie awake at night staring at the ceiling. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Very funny, and very on point.

  4. Riley says:

    Awesome advice. Love your posts and your sense of humor. They add a smile to my day!!

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