Passive-Aggressive Bullies Are The Worst!

Mixed media. Contemporary art portrait of abused, banned to speak and express opinion woman

Being bullied by someone who’s passive-aggressive is the most demeaning and humiliating. I say this because when these types insult you, they’re slick about it. They catch you off guard, taunting you in such a way that it can be tricky to figure out who it’s aimed at. Sometimes, you don’t even know it’s directed at you until it’s way too late for you to deliver a good comeback.

Because the bully may not necessarily address it to you, and while you may be unaware, any bystanders and witnesses nearby will immediately know who the covert nastiness was meant for. It’s funny how we tend to see so much clearer from the outside.

What’s so terrible about passive-aggressive bullying is that the stealthy insults are usually hurled at you in front of an audience. And they can quickly fly over your head and make you look weak or like a clueless idiot for not catching it in time.

Even though the bully’s words are vague and unclear, they will still nibble at your self-esteem and take a chunk out of your confidence whether you want them to or not, because you usually figure it out sooner or later. It only goes to prove how vicious these covert attacks can be.

But understand that although the bully and a few others might think he (the bully) is being witty or cute and that the creep slapped you with a good burn, there are reasons why these types are so slick with the mouth.

Young brunette woman wearing white sweater gagged and tied with duct tape around wrists, facing camera, hostage concept

1. They’re great big cowards. Passive-aggressive bullies don’t have the guts to make a direct attack. The idea of a frontal assault scares these people to death. They hope the insults go over your head because they know that if they can confuse you and throw you off-balance, the least likely you are to jab back with a good counter-attack and make them look like a punk.

2. They think it makes them look cute. Passive-aggressiveness is also used to get attention and look intelligent in front of others. The only way these bullies can achieve this is to humiliate someone else and make them look (and feel) stupid.

3. To stun you and keep you silent. Many times, shock-value of the insults is such that it often leaves the recipient and bystanders speechless. Shock shuts down the ability to think clearly and causes the victim to pause for a second or two. Many times, the target is left stunned, standing there with their mouths hung open and unable to respond quickly and appropriately, therefore making the poor person look slow and feeble-minded in the eyes of bystanders and making the bully look smart and witty.

Also, it can strike fear into the target and keep them from speaking out, afraid that the bully will only verbally beat them down with more wisecracks.

4. Easy Deniability. If the insults are vague and indirect, there’s a higher chance the bully will escape accountability, should the target either catch it right off and either respond to it or report it. The bully can then more easily misconstrue the message, and defensively claim, “Oh, that’s not what I meant,” “No harm intended,” “I wasn’t referring to you,” or “You took that the wrong way.”

Understand that although the garbage that comes out of their mouths may be vile and directed at you, it will often have several different interpretations. And because of those multiple meanings, the bully can very innocently explain away the put-down and make you look overly-sensitive, paranoid, or mentally unstable.

Hostile attitude

But here’s the good news! There are ways to read between the lines and stonewall these lowlife cowards anytime they get slick-mouthed with you.

1. Listen to your gut. If that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach sounds off and you feel weird or that something is off don’t ignore it. Your gut feeling is always right, so go with it!

2. Quickly observe any surrounding bystanders. Make a split-second micro-glance of the witnesses and note their reactions and who they’re looking at. Notice their facial expressions and gestures. If you see any of these expressions below, and you’re likely to notice many of them together, you are the target of the insult.

a. If the witnesses eyes suddenly widen and they immediately look at you funny after the bully opens his mouth.

b. If they alternate uncomfortable glances from the bully to you then back to the bully

c. If you hear light gasps and grunts of shock from the “audience.”

d. If you see their whole faces change suddenly and mouths slightly gape open

e. If you hear soft but derisive giggles, chuckles or laughter

f. If you see or hear snickering

Any number of these will give you a yes and you can address the problem accordingly.

3 thoughts on “Passive-Aggressive Bullies Are The Worst!

  1. I was fired by my bully … but literally the day before I was fired, one of her sycophants (a classic narcissist) in a department meeting, gave me a compliment. Now I’m paraphrasing here … since this happened in 2011 … “I’d like to thank Mike for helping on the social committee for his efforts.” “Hmmm … ” I thought because I knew that I did very little on the social committee … after all I was supervising 6 people and doing 2 projects … yeah I had lots of time to spend lots of time on planning being part of the social committee (sarcasm). I took it as a DIG against me … a dig to SHAME me. I guess he did it to make himself look good in the eyes of my peers and subordinates in their justifications of firing me literally the next day.

      • No need to be sorry about it … I just wanted to give an example. I was bullied although at the time I didn’t know I was being bullied. I did know that I was being intentionally isolated and separated from the herd to be picked off (from a ‘jungle’ perspective so many status quo people like to use as an analogy of how things are done in the real business world conveniently forgetting that we live in a civilized society and not a jungle). I prepared for the end for literally 9 months because they had a target on me and I could not move it off of me no matter what I did. The hypocrisy of values of these people. One professing to be ‘religious’ and did good deeds within his church. At the time I wanted to treat everyone as if they all had good intentions at work. Another hard lesson, not everyone is nice. Not everyone wants to be nice. Some people like to target others. Some people will put their EGO, FEARS, and AMBITIONS above all else even if it hurts people and/or organizations. I still do get triggered but I’m not surprised by the ubiquitousness of bullies in our society. It’s a tool that morally uncivilized humans have been using since the dawn of time. If I had my choice, I’d seal away all bullies under one dome and let them fight it out. The rest of us could then grow society and civilization to where it should be … not stuck in a feedback loop perpetuated by bullies that have forgotten history or simply don’t care about history and the lessons it brings to build on past failures and successes.

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