10 Passive Aggressive Phrases to Eliminate from your vocabulary for a Healthier Marriage (2024)

  1. 'I was only joking.’

Sarcasm is one of the most common manifestations of passive aggressiveness. If your partner makes a comment that upsets you and this is what follows, then you know it wasn't a joke at all. The person meant what was said but isattempting to cover up his or hertrue feelings of wanting to hurt you – worst is when done publicly in front of friends or family.

  1. 'Whatever.'

This is the 2nd worst message to convey since you are telling your partner that what they are saying is irrelevant to you. It is intended to be dismissive and conveying lack of respect for your partner’s position. When having a disagreement and you drop the 'whatever' response, you are telling the other person that their opinion is not worth your time.

  1. 'I'm not mad.'

In reality, this person is livid. They're just not being honest with you.In reality, when you use this phrase, you are not being honest with your partner. Better to learn to express how you feel more constructively.

  1. 'Fine.'

Whenever someone tells you that everything is "fine," that typically means the opposite. Passive aggressive individuals tend to use phrases like 'Fine' in order to express anger indirectly and to shut down direct, emotionally honest communication.

  1. 'No worries.'

Actually, you do have worries and typically this term translates to I'm saying no worries but what I actually mean is screw you. I won't say what I'm really feeling but will hold it against you until I explode.

  1. 'If you really want to.'

This phrase may appear to be accommodating, but don't be fooled. Whenever you use this phrase, you are actually being noncommittal. It may sound as ifyou're going along with the plan, but inside you're not all that thrilledand hedging your bet—but you just don't know how to communicate those feelings, or you may thing that the other person will be mad.

It also gives you an excuse from responsibility if things don’t work out – I call this one the “Pilate like position” since you can then absolve yourself of responsibility when it does not work out.

  1. 'Thanks in advance.'

It's another phrase that may appear innocent at first. But it pretty much means that you're expecting them to do whatever it is you're asking and they pretty much have to do it. This damages your relationship with this person.

  1. 'I was surprised/confused/curious about …'

When you hear this or see the text you can be certain it is used to disguise criticism, as opposed to be being upfront.

  1. 'So …'

How can a two-letter word pack such a punch? Because most of the time it's followed by text that either is awkward or shows their agitation. For example, "So ... are we going to the movies tonight?" or "So ... did you get my email?" The person on the other side is clearly agitated that you haven't responded yet. Or, it could be the beginning of an uncomfortable conversation; the person just does not know how to come out and say it.

  1. 'Hope it's worth it.'

This phrase should be rather obvious.The person you’re communicating with clearly doesn't want you to do something but is aware that you will do so anyway. Instead of expressing concern, the person will leave with this passive-aggressive text and stew until it become a major issue. This person will also beg you to discuss it later so he or shecan use the phrase again on you. It's a shaming phrase.

Based on information from an article in Entrepreneurmagazine by John Rampton

10 Passive Aggressive Phrases to Eliminate from your vocabulary for a Healthier Marriage (2024)


What is the six word phrase to stop passive-aggressive behavior? ›

The good news is that there is a way to stop this behavior, both in ourselves and in others. The key is to remember this six-word phrase: "Attack the problem, not the person."

What is an example of a passive-aggressive phrase? ›

“Got it.” Sometimes, this is just another phrase for “Yep, okay.” But the sarcastic version means something different: “Shut up, I heard you” or “You're annoying, leave me alone.” Sarcasm is the most obvious form of passive aggression, and possibly the most hurtful.

What are passive-aggressive phrases in relationships? ›

For example, some common passive-aggressive phrases could be, “I wouldn't expect you to understand”, “That's a big accomplishment, especially for you”, or "I guess it must be nice to always have so much free time for yourself”.

What does passive-aggressive look like in a marriage? ›

For example, your partner might resort to pouting, storming around the house, or giving you the silent treatment. A passive-aggressive partner has a major impact on the tone of your interactions. It is common to notice that conversations put you on edge, even if you can't quite put your finger on why.

What is the most passive-aggressive thing to say? ›

The worst passive-aggressive phrases you could say include “You're too sensitive,” “Why are you getting so upset?” and “No offense, but…” 73% experience passive-aggressive communication at work; and 52% of those experience it at least weekly.

What is the most common passive-aggressive? ›

If someone is being passive-aggressive, they might:
  • "Ghost" you, or seemingly disappear.
  • Give you a backhanded compliment ("I saw you did the dishes. ...
  • Give you the silent treatment.
  • Indirectly refuse your request (not tell you no, but also not do what you've asked)
  • Make excuses rather than say what is on their mind.
Dec 16, 2022

What are the least passive-aggressive phrases? ›

WordFinder also identified some of the least passive-aggressive work phrases, including “Sorry to bother you again,” “Any update on this” and “I'll take care of it.”

What is a passive-aggressive statement? ›

A common type of passive aggressive behavior comes from not asking for things directly, while also putting down the person they're talking to, at the same time. Passive aggressive example of wistful comments: “I wish I could afford a new car like yours, but unfortunately all my money goes to my student loans.”

What are the red flags of passive-aggressive behavior? ›

Here are some red flags that indicate if someone is being passive-aggressive: Resenting or opposing others' instructions outright, though they may still do what they're told. Delaying a task that someone else requested or making intentional mistakes. Having a sarcastic or argumentative attitude.

What is a passive-aggressive compliment? ›

A person may also give backhanded compliments as a passive-aggressive way to make a point, instead of directly confronting a situation. Not all backhanded compliments are negative. For some people, not knowing what to say or trying to fill a quiet space can lead to saying something they wouldn't normally say.

What is a passive-aggressive spouse? ›

“Being passive aggressive occurs when someone is trying to indirectly express negative feelings as opposed to sharing them openly,” explains trauma-informed therapist Amelia Kelley.

What is passive-aggressive weaponized incompetence? ›

“Weaponized incompetence is a term that describes whenever someone in a relationship pretends they cannot perform a task they actually can do or could easily learn to do, in order to be passive aggressive or avoid responsibility,” says clinical psychologist and founder of Thrive Psychology Group, Charlynn Ruan, PhD.

Is saying "no worries" passive-aggressive? ›

“No worries” can also be used to abruptly end a conversation. Sometimes, passive-aggressive people use the phrase “No worries” to express their anger toward someone indirectly. It's an easy tactic to shut down further conversation and avoid honest communication, especially in the workplace.

How to shut down passive-aggressive behavior? ›

Strategies for Managing Passive-Aggressive People
  1. Identify the Behavior. ...
  2. Create a Safe Environment. ...
  3. Use Language Carefully. ...
  4. Stay Calm. ...
  5. Identify the Cause. ...
  6. Provide Training.
  7. Set Clear Standards and Consequences. ...
  8. Open up Channels of Communication.

How to stop passive-aggressive behavior? ›

  1. Simply asking for what you want.
  2. Accepting things may not always go your way.
  3. Telling someone why you're upset with them.
  4. Communicating honestly and assertively.
  5. Letting go of things beyond your control.
  6. Empathizing with others.
  7. Being open-minded.
  8. Respecting others' opinions and perspectives.
Feb 5, 2023


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