There are six groupings of anger behaviour. It's easy to see an aggressive person and say: hey, that person is angry. Understanding that anger can be displayed in other ways is essential to identifying anger in others and ourselves.   

Helps Counselling


Passive anger behaviours can be hard to identify because these individuals are often quiet until they are not. And when the person is visibly angry, it is often short-lived and brushed off. Individuals with passive behaviours will bite their tongue, say everything is ok, never go against the group or rock the boat.

People with Passive anger behaviours internalize their anger. And would likely be offended and surprised if someone suggested they were angry. They may even pride themselves on their patience and ability to remain calm. They aren't actually calm, they are just experts at holding stuff in. 

They are terrible at saying no and are often taken advantage of. They struggle with depression, exhaustion/fatigue and feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. 

The problem is that people have a limited internal capacity for holding onto their denied anger and eventually. These individuals are experts at denying, avoiding, pretending, minimizing and overlooking. They might even be fond of the saying: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.    


Passive-aggressive anger behaviours can be sneaky and tricky to identify. The person doing them has deniability. Anger is hidden and indirect. Passive-aggressive individuals will be agreeable but then work against the person they agreed to help.

Showing up late, promising to do something but not doing it. They have disruptive, annoying and hurtful behaviours which they are not consciously aware of. The people around them are left feeling frustrated.

If confronted a Passive-aggressive person will turn the table and label the person who confronted them as the bad guy who is angry and make themselves the innocent target of the aggressive person.

A Passive Aggressive person will gossip, speak out of both sides of their mouth, be cynical and sarcastic, and assume a posture of superiority. They believe they are in the right and that no one can make them do anything. Gaslighting by a Passive-Aggressive person is common.


Aggression is a behaviour that is intended to cause harm to self, others or property.

Aggressive individuals tend to be very overt and open with their anger: physically or verbally.

They fail to consider the feelings, safety, or security of others when triggered. 

Behaviour choices include: hitting, throwing, breaking things, swearing, threatening, harassing, and stomping around. 


With Rage, the person often doesn't have control of their behaviour. It can be threatening to see someone in a Rage even if their anger isn't directed towards you.

Rage is very physical and can include throwing furniture, hitting walls, slamming doors, or physically attacking someone.

Rage is the most potent form of anger, very physical and threatening to the individual around the person who is in a Rage. The person in a Rage will have a possible lack of control over their actions. And may not even remember what happened.  


Hostile behaviour occurs when an individual believes that specific individuals or groups or the world are against them. Therefore, these groups are the enemy.

As a result, a person is ready to believe the worst of the person, group or world and consequently is prepared to defend themselves from their perceived enemy. Hostility can be both conscious and unconscious.   


Assertiveness is using anger to one's benefit and the benefit of others.

Assertive behaviours include expressing anger directly. Telling someone you are angry in a straightforward, non-threatening way.

Assertiveness comes from self-awareness. The individual can identify that they are angry. They can communicate their anger clearly and calmly to the other person so that the other person will hear it. Then they can focus on solving the problem by identifying the root cause of the anger.    

Questions to Ask Yourself

What is your go-to anger behaviour?   

What are/were your parent's go-to anger behaviour? Has their anger behaviour changed since they were raising a family?   

What feelings come up for you at the idea of being direct (assertive) and telling someone that you are angry instead of keeping quiet (passive) or getting visibly mad (aggressive)?   

Does the idea of being assertive feel safe or scary?   

Previous: Solving a Problem Next: Conclusion