Passive-Aggressive Bullies: The Vilest of Them All

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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.

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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.

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. These bullies can only achieve this by humiliating someone else and making them look (and feel) stupid.

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3. To stun you and keep you silent. Often, the 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.

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

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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.

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!

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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.

What Gets Targets of Bullying in More Trouble

Overreacting. Any overreactions to the taunts, insults, and attacks of bullies only bring more problems targets would otherwise avoid if they stayed calm. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson through time-consuming trial and error, and it could’ve gotten me either maimed or killed. But you don’t have to.

Overreacting can have a boomerang effect because when you get overly excited, the chances are that the bullies will too- especially bullies who are overly aggressive. Overdoing the response could cause the altercation to escalate into something you may not be able to walk away from. Also, the bullies could use your overreaction against you.

The target’s overreaction is how bullies feign victimhood and make the victim look like the aggressor. It’s how bullies bait their victims. So why not use a different strategy?

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The smart thing to do is to fake a surrender or submission. Make it look as if you’re giving in to your bullies’ demands. I realize this may feel a bit cowardly to you, but you aren’t caving in, you’re only making your bullies think you are. So, remain calm and make them believe they have the upper hand. Doing so will stabilize the bully’s temper.

But wait! There’s another benefit! Your bullies more than likely expect or even want you to react with a high degree of aggression. But you don’t, and it will throw them off guard. It will surprise, even shock your bullies, because you remained calm and agreed with them. The surprise is a powerful weapon if you know how to use it.

Use your fake surrender as part of a bigger plan once you fool them into thinking you care. On the inside, you continue to stand your ground, but on the outside, you give in to their desires. Doing so can give you time to quietly plan a countermeasure that will bring the bullies down. Smarts will always trump aggression every time!

However, understand that this takes a truckload of self-discipline and self-control. And, as mentioned earlier, you may feel like a big old wimp when you use this technique. Just remember this: You’re not giving the bullies what they want. You only look like you are. You’re only playing dead to save your life!

Here’s a third benefit. By faking your submission, you also allow yourself time to study your bullies and carefully plot any future moves. And when the bullies are satisfied and lay off you, you’ll finally have room to make your countermove.

So, go ahead—fake your submission. Get close to your bullies and learn their ways. Give them no reason to react, nothing to prepare for, and no cause for resistance. Then when the time is right, BAM!

They won’t know what hit them.

Any time you make it look as if you submit to your bullies, you’re only mocking them. It’s silent disdain – like expelling a silent fart in their direction, only they don’t know they’ve been farted on.

You turn their own power against them and make them look like idiots. But they can’t retaliate because you did what they told you to do. Right?

Bullies and Doublespeak

Bullies are slick with their insults. Many times, they may disguise their vitriol and contempt with the use of doublespeak.

The term “doublespeak” comes from George Orwell’s book “1984” and a person uses it when he uses euphemisms and words that sound more palatable to the ears. Bullies use doublespeak to sound concerned rather than hateful to keep from turning other people off.

For example:

a bully is degrading and defaming their target. But rather than being blunt and saying,

“I can’t stand him, he’s batshit crazy and he belongs in the nuthouse!” the bully will instead say,

“I’m very concerned about him. I think he has a mental imbalance somewhere that hasn’t been addressed. I hope he gets the help he needs.”

The first version would make the bully sound like the person she truly is- a nasty old shrew! The second version sounds so much better and makes the bully look like a good person who’s genuinely concerned for the target.

Here’s another example:

A bully is putting her neighbor down. But rather than say,

“I’d like to catch her in the street and beat the living crap out of her and leave her to die!” which would make the bully sound like a vindictive and hateful bitch, she says,

“If she doesn’t change her attitude, I’m afraid someone’s going to hurt her really bad!”

Again, the second version sounds so much better because it shows concern rather than hatred for the target and it also makes the target look like she must be bringing the bad treatment on herself.

It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it and the nonverbal communication you use with it that makes all the difference. It’s too easy to bully someone without looking like a bully!

Believe it or not, if you’re a target, you know when you’re being bullied no matter how covert your bullies may be. The trick is to call it out in the early stages before the sneaky attacks become a habit or a set pattern.

Never let anyone grow too comfortable with abusing you. Once they do, the abuse will get so out of control that people won’t even try to hide it! And that’s when you will be in grave danger!

Again! Call it out in the early stages. It’s the only way you’ll be able to put a stop to it!