11 phrases passive-aggressive people use to undermine your confidence

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | April 24, 2024, 1:34 pm

Ever had a chat with someone and walked away feeling…weird? As if they were somehow taking a jab at you without actually saying anything mean?

That could be a classic case of passive-aggressiveness. These folks have a knack for making you second-guess yourself without ever being direct.

Sound familiar?

Well, hold tight because we’re about to explore the top 10 phrases passive-aggressive people use to shake your confidence.

By the end of this, you’ll be spotting these sneaky comments from a mile away and not letting them bother you.

1. “I’m not mad.”

This is a classic phrase used by passive-aggressive people.

If you’ve ever heard this statement after an argument or disagreement, it’s likely you’re dealing with someone who’s passive-aggressive.

They might insist they’re not mad, but their actions or tone of voice say otherwise.

This phrase is designed to make you question your judgement and feel guilty for potentially causing upset, even when they’re clearly not okay.

Recognize this for what it is – a manipulation tactic.

2. “Whatever you want.”

On the surface, this phrase might seem like the person is giving you the freedom to choose, but often it’s not that simple.

In passive-aggressive speak, “Whatever you want” usually means “I disagree with your choice, but I’m not going to say it outright.”

This phrase can leave you second-guessing your decisions and feeling guilty for choosing something they might not like.

It’s okay to make choices that suit you. Don’t let this vague remark undermine your confidence.

3. “Fine.”

Ah, the notorious one-word answer – “Fine.”

I remember a time when I was excitedly discussing holiday plans with a friend.

I asked if she was okay with the itinerary and her response? A terse, “Fine.”

That didn’t feel very fine to me. It was as if she was unhappy with the plans but wouldn’t come out and say it.

It made me question my decisions and dampened my excitement.

This is what passive-aggressive people do. They use such words to express their discontent indirectly, leaving you feeling unsure and anxious.

Don’t let that one-word reply make you second-guess yourself!

4. “I thought you knew.”

This little phrase is like a secret weapon for someone who’s being passive-aggressive.

It’s sneaky because it’s meant to make you feel like you’re out of the loop or missing something important.

When someone says this, it’s like they’re hinting that everyone else is in on something, but you’ve been left in the dark. This can really mess with your confidence.

But here’s a thing to remember: just because someone says this doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s a mind game, nothing more.

Famous psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”

This means that what someone else knows or doesn’t know isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. We all have different pieces of the puzzle.

When someone says “I thought you knew,” just brush it off.

It’s not a measure of your worth or knowledge; it’s just someone playing mind games.

Stay confident in what you know and who you are.

5. “I’m just joking.”

This phrase can be particularly hurtful. It often follows a mean or snide comment that’s intended to undermine your confidence.

When the passive-aggressive person sees that you’re hurt or upset by their comment, they’ll quickly add, “I’m just joking.”

It makes you question whether you’re too sensitive and masks their hurtful intent behind the guise of humor.

It’s crucial to remember, everyone has the right to feel respected and valued.

If a joke hurts you, it’s not a joke. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. Your feelings are important, and so are you!

6. “No need to get defensive.”

This one hits close to home. I remember a conversation with a colleague where I was expressing my point of view to them.

Instead of acknowledging my perspective, they said, “No need to get defensive.”

I wasn’t being defensive, but their comment made me question my reaction and feel guilty for standing my ground.

That’s the trick with this phrase – it’s designed to make you feel like you’re overreacting, even when you’re simply expressing your thoughts or feelings.

If you hear this, remind yourself: it’s okay to express your opinions and protect your boundaries.

7. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

This phrase is a tricky one, like a hidden trap.

Picture this: someone says something that stings, you react, and then they hit you with “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

It’s a slick move, making it seem like you’re the one at fault for getting upset, not them for saying something hurtful.

It’s like they’re trying to make you think you’re being too touchy or blowing things out of proportion.

But hold on a sec. Your feelings? They’re totally legit. If something bugs you, that’s on them for saying it, not you for feeling it.

Remember what the famous psychologist, Dr. Brené Brown, said: “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

It means standing by your feelings and knowing they matter, no matter what anyone else says.

When someone tries the old “I didn’t mean to upset you” line, stand firm.

Your feelings are your own, and they’re as real as it gets. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

8. “If you say so.”

Did you know that this phrase can be a subtle way of expressing doubt or disbelief?

When someone says “If you say so,” they are often implying that they don’t agree with or believe what you’re saying.

It’s a passive-aggressive way of undermining your credibility and can leave you feeling unsure of your own thoughts and opinions.

These conversational implicatures play a significant role in how we interpret messages.

When you hear “If you say so,” remember it’s not about your credibility but their inability to communicate openly and honestly.

9. “You’re overreacting.”

This phrase takes me back to a time when I was having a disagreement with a friend.

I was expressing how I felt about something they had done, and their response was, “You’re overreacting”.

It instantly made me question my feelings and swept the issue under the rug.

The problem with this phrase is that it invalidates your emotions, making you feel like you’re making a bigger deal out of things than necessary.

But remember, your feelings are your own, and they’re important.

No one has the right to tell you that you’re overreacting.

If something bothers you, it’s for a reason, and it’s okay to express that.

10. “I was just trying to help.”

This one is a real piece of work. It’s basically them saying, “Hey, I did something that upset you, but I was just trying to help, so you can’t blame me.”

It’s a crafty way of deflecting responsibility for their actions, and it can make you feel guilty for being upset.

You start thinking maybe you’re being too harsh or ungrateful.

But here’s the raw truth: if their ‘help’ hurt you, it wasn’t really help, was it?

If they truly wanted to help, they would respect your feelings and apologize for overstepping.

Don’t let this phrase guilt-trip you. Your feelings matter.

11. “Don’t take it personally.”

This phrase is a gut punch wrapped in pretty paper.

It’s often used as a preface or follow-up to a hurtful comment or criticism. It’s like they’re giving themselves permission to say something hurtful by telling you not to take it personally.

But how are you supposed to feel when someone says something negative about you?

You’re supposed to feel, period. That’s what being human is about.

Don’t let this phrase fool you into suppressing your emotions. You’re allowed to feel hurt, and you’re allowed to express that hurt.

By recognizing these phrases for what they are—tools of manipulation—you can learn to stand your ground and not let passive-aggressive people shake your confidence.

Remember, you’re stronger than their words and you’ve got this!

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *