BBC Interview On Passive Aggression With Clinical Director Alex Hedger



How do you know if someone is being passive aggressive towards you?  And if they are, how should you deal with it?

Dynamic You: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Clinics Director, Alex Hedger spoke on BBC local radio stations with Mark Forrest to answer the question of what is passive aggression and how can you recognise it…?

The program was originally broadcast on 17th November 2015 – However you can click below to hear the interview again.


Whilst we can all be passive aggressive at times, its important to realise that passive aggression is still hostility, and isn’t something that is healthy to use, or to be around for long periods of time.

A good way to understand any type of aggressive behaviour is by a simple definition of aggression being ‘an imbalance of one person’s needs being met at the expense of another person’s’.  This means that if we’re being passive aggressive we’re making sure that our own needs are met without thinking about the other person’s needs as well.  But because it’s passive aggression we’re doing it in a “sugarcoated” kind of way, so that it seems on the surface that we aren’t being aggressive at all, when we really are.

Typical Examples of Passive Aggressive Behaviours are:

  1. Giving Backhanded Compliments
  2. The ‘Silent Treatment’
  3. Deliberately Procrastinating
  4. Guilt Tripping The Other Person
  5. Targeted use of sarcasm

Whilst there are lots of other ways of being passive aggressive, a key flavour is that there is often a sense of awkwardness or uncomfortability in the person that is on the receiving end, and ironically often a sense of frustration in the person using it.  This is because using this type of strategy to get needs met often fails – simply because the other person doesn’t clearly know what our needs actually are, or worse, they feel so uncomfortable that they choose to not meet them and distance themselves from the person being passive aggressive.

But, are there any times where it is OK to be passive aggressive?  Listen to the program above to find out now….