It is very normal, and natural, for us to feel various emotions. Good ones elicit joy and happiness, and they are easy to share with others. It makes you proud to be a bearer of good news and positive emotions. On the flip side, negative emotions bring out fear and negativity in general.

This is probably why negative emotions are so difficult to communicate with others in a healthy manner if the main intention is to resolve conflict. This is why these emotions are often stifled in order to keep the peace.

We’re often left with no choice but to carry around these negative emotions that we find difficult to express. However, sooner or later, they will often unconsciously find a means of expression. This is when aggression can result. We may release our repressed negative emotions in a negative manner.

There are two types of aggression. People demonstrate aggression by being either passive-aggressive or actively aggressive. There is a difference between the two, in terms of how it is expressed, and its overall impact on another person.

Active Aggression

When a person openly expresses their anger, disapproval, or hostility in various ways, this is active aggression. For example, they may use intimidation, bullying (through verbal or non-verbal means), coercing the other person to do what they want (to undermine their confidence and self-esteem), or deliberately try to ruin a person’s reputation with lies.

Active aggression can be demonstrated between family members, and friends, at work, or absolutely anywhere. Every time you see a person openly demonstrating their dominance and inciting fear and intimidation towards another person to satisfy their own motives, active aggression is evident.

Examples of Actively Aggressive Behaviors

  • Physical acts of violence to inflict pain.
  • Verbal hostility and abuse.
  • Blackmailing a person and threatening their safety.
  • Spreading lies and fabricating stories to try to destroy their reputation.
  • Mocking a person in front of others to humiliate them.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-aggressive behavior is equally motivated by feelings of anger, disapproval, and other negative emotions including jealousy and envy. The only difference is that it is expressed in a much more subtle and indirect way.

Just like active aggression, the attacker is out to prove their superiority over another person, but they do it covertly. It is more manipulative and hurtful.

Due to the covert nature of passive-aggressive behavior, some things are taken into consideration as to its causes and the way it is expressed. There are instances when the intention behind passive-aggressive behavior is to save a relationship from completely falling apart.

In the act of secretly harboring ill feelings and not openly expressing them, a person would still be able to express their genuine feelings of hostility through their passive-aggressive behaviors. They manage to get away with their ‘hostility’ and not feel responsible for their actions unless they are pointed out.

Examples of Passive-Aggressive Behaviors

  • Refusing to acknowledge a person and not responding to them when spoken to. This makes the person feel they are being ignored.
  • Consistent procrastination or not accomplishing the tasks asked of them. They give reasons as to why they may have forgotten, or claim not to have been told to do the task in the first place.
  • Indirectly insulting someone in the form of a backhanded compliment.
  • Deliberately sabotaging a person so that they are caught up in an unfortunate incident.
  • Regularly complaining that they are misunderstood, underappreciated, and that life is not fair to them.

Final Thoughts

None of the negative emotions that we naturally and regularly experience towards other people justifies any sort of hostility, whether it be actively or passively.

The mere fact that we act on our anger in ways that could potentially harm or intentionally hurt another individual is not a nice trait to exhibit. There is always a healthy way of expressing negative emotions.

If you feel you are using poor behaviors towards others, you can seek help from a professional. You or someone you know, don’t have to go through life unable to express negative emotions healthily.