10 julio, 2024

Passive behavior: what it is, characteristics and examples

What is passive behavior?

The passive behavior It is the behavior of some people that manifests itself in insecurity when interacting with others when speaking, in their constant search to please those around them regardless of their own good and avoiding confrontations with others. This type of behavior becomes more evident in verbal communication.

A person with passive behavior leads a lifestyle characterized by «running away.» Frequently, he allows his rights to be violated, since he is not able to openly express his feelings, thoughts and opinions.

As a consequence, you allow others to violate your rights and disrespect you. It may also be that he expresses himself in a «self-defeating» way, apologizing, lacking confidence, so that others give little importance to what he says or does.

A passive person is constantly inhibited, is shy and reserved. She does not achieve her objectives and goals in life, so she lives in constant frustration, unhappiness and anxiety, because she allows others to choose for her.

These types of people act that way, because they prefer not to deteriorate relationships with other people, so they adopt submissive behaviors hoping that the other person will capture their needs.

Characteristics of passive behavior

A person with passive behavior can usually act in the following way:

– Accuse others for their actions.

– Expresses through indirect statements what is bothering him instead of facing the problem.

– It can be dishonest.

– You avoid problems and the responsibility you have over them, hoping that they will resolve themselves or that others will take care of the problem.

– Others take advantage of him/her easily (in addition, it encourages this attitude).

– You usually have feelings of insecurity and inferiority, which are reinforced whenever you come into contact with an aggressive person.

– She is angry with herself because she knows that others take advantage of her.

– She is an expert at hiding her feelings.

– She is shy and reserved when she is with other people.

He doesn’t know how to accept compliments.

– He is exhausted and does not have much energy or enthusiasm for anything.

– His attitude ends up irritating others.

– Absorbs the energy of others.

– You can recognize him by his typical body and verbal language.

In addition, it can present these other characteristics:

– Non-verbal behavior: look down, low voice, hesitation, helpless gestures, denying importance to the situation, sunken posture, can totally avoid the situation, wrings his hands, hesitant or complaining tone, false laughter, among others.

– Verbal conduct: eAmong his common phrases are always: “maybe”, “I suppose”, “I wonder if we could…”, “would you care a lot…”, “just”, “don’t you think…”, “ehh”, “well”, “ It really isn’t important”, “don’t bother”, “it doesn’t matter”, among other expressions.

– Effects: cInterpersonal conflicts, depression, helplessness, low self-esteem, hurting yourself, missing opportunities, tension, feeling out of control, loneliness, not liking yourself or others and/or feeling angry.

A person with passive behavior does not necessarily present all the characteristics mentioned above, this can vary from one individual to another.

Passive-aggressive behavior

If a person expresses their emotions in a negative way, that is, hitting objects, people, breaking things or shouting, we can find ourselves before an aggressive but not passive person.

When a person presents both behaviors, they do not express them openly, but they do contain all those negative emotions that they apparently do not show.

A person with this type of behavior tends to «keep it all to himself», but does not forget the inconvenience, but rather uses other strategies to channel the aggression by showing his hostility in another way.

A person with passive-aggressive behavior can present these actions:

– Shows resentment, continuous reproaches, sarcasm.

– Stop talking or listening to the other person.

– It takes a long time to perform any task.

– Makes senseless reproaches.

Behind this behavior there is a conflict and it does not resolve it assertively. An assertive person is able to exchange opinions with others, make proposals, improvements, suggestions or present necessary complaints in an appropriate manner without insulting.

Consequences of passive behavior

The objective of a person with this behavior is to calm down others and avoid conflicts or confrontations of any kind. For passives, avoiding or escaping from anxiety-producing conflicts is comforting, so the inhibited behavior is maintained.

Although on certain occasions one’s own rights must be given up in order to maintain good relations with our fellow men, it is necessary to understand that if this behavior is exaggerated and frequent, it is not healthy.

This conduct will incur injustice towards himself and unhappiness by not being able to forge a moderately normal life. By acting condescendingly or passively, one does not express one’s own ideas, thoughts or feelings for fear of the reaction of others.

A person with this type of behavior does not express himself honestly, is not clear or precise. With these actions, little by little, she generates an aggressive attitude towards herself, because she doesn’t get what she wants.

Above all because he perceives the disrespectful way in which his environment treats him, even if he does nothing to avoid it. He just accepts it.

For these types of people, by systematically acting passively, negative experiences undermine their self-esteem and confidence, to such an extent that they lose self-respect.

This brings, as mentioned before, abuse of power by others, making the passive subject always be and feel like a victim.

Examples of Passive Behavior

– When a person continually apologizes, even if they don’t have to.

– When an employee constantly complains about the amount of work he has, but does not clearly tell his boss.

– When an individual does not say what they think, for fear of conflict with others.

– When a person does not want to work anymore, and seeks to sabotage the work of their colleagues, without expressing why they are doing what they are doing.

– When a person persistently criticizes everything that others do, instead of openly saying that they don’t like something.


Dalton, M., Hoyle, D., Watts, M. (2007). Human relations. Mexico. Publisher: Thomson.
Luke, B. (2017). managing stress. USES. Publisher: World Headquaters.

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