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People with passive personalities often appear quiet and sometimes nonchalant. While this behavior may seem innocent and somewhat harmless, passive characteristics can create problems in personal relationships as well as the workplace. Passive individuals display certain traits that make their personality type obvious; being aware of these traits can help you to alter your behavior, or offer appropriate tips to a loved one or co-worker.
Passive communicators are bashful and may not speak up when a situation calls for it. For instance, a mother with a passive personality may not address the inconsiderate behavior of her children and husband when they leave dirty dishes in the sink after dinner or interrupt her evening reading time for help with a problem that isn't urgent. Instead, she may breathe an exasperated sigh when her family members are out of earshot, or shyly say something like, "I'm busy right now" -- a statement her family likely will ignore. Bashful people don't like drawing attention to themselves and want to do whatever it takes to appear agreeable.
Extreme sensitivity is also a common trait in passive communicators. If a boss says something mildly critical to a passive employee, such as, "I need you to do better about getting to work on time," the employee will take the comment to heart and may experience extreme sadness that doesn't match with the slight reprimand. In personal relationships, people with passive personalities may become hurt or internally angry if a family member makes a comment like, "Those pants don't look good on you." Since passive people don't express their true feelings in a straightforward way, they are sometimes saddened when others do and feel that others are being too critical.
People with a passive communication style are always conscious of how they think they're coming across to others. This is why a passive individual may not tell his boss that a co-worker didn't pull her weight on a company project. Self-consciousness is also the reason many people with passive personalities don't speak up to ask for what they want at work or in relationships. They feel as though their needs and preferences are not important and think they appear silly for speaking up.
Passive communicators often apologize for having feelings or an opinion that is different from others. This makes the people who live and work with the passive individual devalue her opinion, or treat her feelings as though they aren't a priority. Passive people hate to be assertive or display any behavior they feel is aggressive; it makes them uncomfortable, and they come across as if they are doing something wrong.
Being too trusting of other people's direction or viewpoints is another trait of a passive communicator. Because people with passive traits feel that everyone's opinions but theirs are valuable, they will trust what a spouse, close friend or boss tells them -- without considering their own feelings. This often leads the passive person to develop a disrespect or anger toward the person who vocalizes his opinion or facilitates a project if the venture goes wrong in any way. Of course, the passive individual will never express this anger, or may do so in a subdued or roundabout way.
Passive communicators are afraid that if they state how they feel, they will offend or anger someone else. Individuals with a passive personality feel that everyone else has the right to express themselves, but they are somehow not afforded this right. A passive person's shy tendencies may also make her afraid that others will view her negatively if she doesn't agree with the family's destination decision for summer vacation, or her business partner's financial investment choice. This can lead to more withdrawal and internal sadness or anger.