What is Passive Behaviour?

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What is passive behaviour? Passiveness, being passive or demonstrating passive behaviour is a description that we use to describe the visible behaviours that another person demonstrates. The behaviour is often described alongside other types of behaviour such as aggressive behaviour, passive-aggressive behaviour and assertive behaviour.

What is Passive Behaviour?

Passive behaviour is normally a gut-based or natural reaction to an internal or external event that triggers an emotional feeling which results in passive behaviour being demonstrated. There is no 'fixed list' of traits that would define passive behaviour and therefore help us to ultimately answer the question of what is aggressive behaviour.

There are some general traits though which are demonstrated through the 3 main elements that we use to communicate - body language, voice and words.

What is Passive Behaviour - Assertiveness Skills Training Course - Revolution Learning and Development

Passive Body Language

Examples of passive body language may include:

  • Shrinking - staying back from the crowd, trying to look smaller so as not to be noticed
  • Hunching - head down and shoulders shrugged
  • Fiddling - fiddling with items of jewellery, clothing, hair or other items in the hand
  • Lack of eye contact - looking at the floor or away from others

Passive Voice

Examples of passive voice may include:

  • Quiet - Low to inaudible volume
  • Mumbling - words are not clearly spoken
  • Monotonous - no variation in pitch, pace or tone
  • Waffling - using lots of words, repeating

Passive Words

Examples of passive words may include:

  • Sorry
  • It’s not up to me
  • It’s only me
  • It doesn’t really matter
  • I don’t know
  • I don’t mind
  • It’s up to you

Common Passive Mis-Conceptions

While the above behaviours are very general and would be widely recognised by most, passiveness doesn't always have to be quiet. Being confident but waffling, sitting on the fence, not willing to commit or make a decision may be seen as passive behaviour.

The issue is that because it's behavioural, something you may deem to be not passive may actually be perceived as being passive by someone else.

The Alternative to Passiveness

If you find that you are passive or have been provided with some feedback that you are too passive then looking at alternative types of behaviour to get your message across will be very beneficial to you. For example, assertiveness is a great behaviour to master. Assertiveness can help you to communicate in a direct, confident and clear way which tends to get results, maintains relationships and generates 2-way respect.

Further Learning

If you would like to learn more about passive behaviour and the question of what is passive behaviour then attending an Assertiveness Skills training course can help. Take a look at Assertiveness Training from our training partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd.


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