Dr. Nicole LePera

Dr. Nicole LePera



If you show frustration or anger through: sighing, giving the silent treatment, or making sarcastic comments—this is a passive aggressive communication style. You might say “I’m fine” when asked if you’re upset. Here’s why 🧵:

Passive aggressive communication is a common style of communicating in dysfunctional homes. We learn to communicate this way when we witness adults never directly talk about, process, and find solutions for their issues.

We’ve seen parents who shut down, avoid conflict, or erupt when they’re angry. This teaches us: conflict is “bad” and leaves us without the tools to navigate it.

If you’ve been raised in this environment you might: “ghost” people you aren’t interested in, disappear or avoid people when there’s conflict, or you might expect people to “read” your emotions without you speaking them.

You might always be asking people if they’re upset, what they’re feeling or thinking, or have a consistent urge to ask someone if you’ve done something wrong. This is because as a child you had to read your parents emotions, rather than talking about them.

It’s helpful to understand that conflict isn’t bad. Actually, conflict can create emotional intimacy. It can allow us to understand the people we love on a deeper level. We just need to learn active communication.

Active communication sounds like: - “I feel hurt that I wasn’t invited” - “I didn’t like being pressured to go with you after I said no.” - “I get overwhelmed when you don’t let me take a break from a heated conversation.”

- “I’m not exactly sure what I feel yet but I need a minute to gather myself” - “I want you to ask me before making plans for us” - “I need more notice. Planning in advance is important to me”

Active communication doesn’t assume someone can read our minds or “just know” what we’re upset about. People cannot know what we are feeling until we communicate that, clearly.

Active communication doesn’t personalize, become defensive, or reject what other people feel. It’s important to practice emotional regulation: learning to listen without reacting, learning to breathe, & learning to pause before having an impulsive reaction.

This will be uncomfortable. But, with practice we will become more confident. And our relationships will become more safe, secure, and healthy. Through active communication we can: establish boundaries, find compromise, and authentic emotional connection.

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