20 Common Behaviors of People Who Are Way Too Passive in Life

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By Jonathan Trent

Being a passive person can often mean that your life is limited. It can affect your relationships, development, and experiences. Where assertiveness is celebrated, passiveness can be a problematic way to live. These are the 20 most common behaviors of passive people.

Hesitating When it Comes to Decision Making

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Passive people don’t often like to take the lead in decision making, which is why they might falter. They often struggle making decisions, whether big or small, because they view it as a lot of pressure. They delay in the hope that someone else will make the decision for them!

Difficulty in Saying “No”

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Harvard Business Review explains that a “thoughtful no” can be “a huge boon, saving time and trouble”, yet for a passive person, they’re more likely to say yes to everything and overburden themselves. This can be because they feel guilty if they decline and, therefore often agree to anything.

Avoiding Conflict at All Costs

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It might be no surprise that passive people seek to avoid conflict. If disagreement arises, they’re likely to step back into the shadows and let other people do the talking. If a conflict arises that directly relates to them, they will more often than not sacrifice their own wants just to keep the peace.

Low Self-Esteem

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Passive people regularly doubt their own self-worth. According to Verywell Mind, having low self-esteem can also affect your motivation to go after the things you want in life. Passive people with low self-esteem will therefore keep quiet about their own goals and motivations.

Rarely Expressing Personal Opinions

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People who are too passive in life will rarely express their own opinions. They’ll likely go along with the opinion of the masses. This is usually due to them feeling uncomfortable about sharing their own views, or they may feel like the odd one out in a large group of people.

Reluctance to Take Initiative

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Naveen Samala via LinkedIn defines taking initiative as “noticing opportunities that others may or may not see and taking action”. Taking action is the very thing that passive people struggle with. They will often wait for others to take the lead, or be happy for opportunities to pass by if nobody else steps up.

Suppressing Emotions

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People who are too passive in life will always hide their true feelings. This can be because they don’t want to burden others. This can lead to bottling-up of emotions, frustration or even health issues. Business Insider explains that you should never bottle up your emotions, as this can lead to them inevitably exploding.

Apologizing Too Much

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The reason that passive people often apologize too much is that they’re trying to avoid butting heads. This can often mean that they apologize on other people’s behalf or for things that aren’t their fault. A passive person might even say sorry when there’s nothing to say sorry for.

Lack of Self-Advocacy

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If you don’t advocate for yourself, then you often lose out on opportunities. Passive people are the most likely to lack self-advocacy, as this is seen as a more assertive stance. They might miss out on promotions, recognition or personal opportunities because they would rather suffer in silence.

Excessive People-Pleasing

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Because passive people often sacrifice their own wants for others, excessive people-pleasing can be a common behavior. They will go out of their way to make sure others are happy, even at their own expense. They also feel responsible for other people’s happiness.

Poor Boundary Setting

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Passive people are far too concerned with pleasing others to set healthy boundaries. They have difficulty communicating their own needs, so they won’t ever speak up when other people overstep those boundaries. It can often lead to a feeling of powerlessness.

Neglecting Their Own Hobbies and Interests

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Because passive people always prioritize other people’s needs above their own, it’s likely they either have no hobbies or neglect them. Their own interests and enjoyment will be put on the back burner, and this can lead to feelings of personal unfulfillment.

Passive Communication Style

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It can often be difficult to effectively communicate with a passive person due to their timid communication style. They will use indirect language or hints instead of stating their meaning clearly. They also often avoid eye contact or show awkward body language.

Relying on Others for Validation

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Passive people will constantly seek validation from their friends, family or even colleagues in the workplace. Their self-esteem will depend on how others perceive them, and the feedback they give. Without this external approval, their insecurity will increase. Even with validation, they can still doubt themselves.

Fear of Failure

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Most people have a fear of making mistakes, but for passive people, this is amplified. They will avoid any new situations or challenges due to the fear of failure. This will lead them to become trapped in their comfort zone, and miss out on new opportunities for growth.

Blaming Themselves for Everything

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Passive people are among the most likely to dwell on their mistakes. They’ll often beat themselves up for things that might not even be their fault. A passive person can find it very difficult to accept that a lot of things are out of their control, choosing instead to focus on faults.

Being Resistant to Change

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Unsurprisingly, passive people are also resistant to change when they’re so happy in their comfort zone. They will also prefer the predictable over the unknown. Even if the predictable is something they don’t want, they won’t be willing to rock the boat to change it.

Underutilizing Their Talents

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This isn’t to say that passive people lack talents or interests. Sometimes, passive people can have a host of talents that they are hesitant to showcase. This means they might lack the drive to progress these talents or even begin thinking they’re not good enough.

Allowing Others to Make Decisions for Them

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Letting other people make choices for them means passive people can sit on the sidelines, which is where they prefer to be. The idea of making a choice implies they have to be assertive and have direction in life – and this isn’t where they feel most comfortable.

Escaping into a Fantasy

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Lastly, you might find that a lot of passive people daydream and escape into a fantasy world rather than take action in life. They’ll feel disconnected from their reality, avoid challenges and choose to retreat to their fantasy scenario in their mind where they feel safest.