The Angry Smile

Learn the Powerful Skills of Benign Confrontation!

What is passive-aggressive behavior? The authors of this three-part book have studied the psychology of this behavior for over four decades in both clinical and educational settings. They offer real-world examples and empowering, practical strategies for working with or when confronted with individuals who exhibit any of the five levels of passive aggressiveness.

Part 1:  What Is Passive Aggression?
  • Chapter 1: The Secret World of Passive Aggression
  • Chapter 2: Developmental Pathways to a Passive-Aggressive Personality
  • Chapter 3: Reasons People Use Passive-Aggressive Behaviors
  • Chapter 4: The Five Levels of Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Part 2:  Identifying Passive-Aggressive Behaviors
  • Chapter 5: Passive-Aggressive Behaviors at Home
  • Chapter 6: Passive-Aggressive Behaviors at School
  • Chapter 7: Passive-Aggressive Behaviors in Marriage and Extended Family
  • Chapter 8: Passive-Aggressive Behaviors in the Workplace
Part 3:  Changing Passive Aggressive Behaviors
  • Chapter 9: Counter-Passive Aggression
  • Chapter 10: The Passive-Aggressive Conflict Cycle
  • Chapter 11: Changing Responses to Passive-Aggressive Behavior
  • Chapter 12: Benign Confrontation of Passive-Aggressive Behavior

171 pages • ©2009 • 8.5 x 11 • softcover

Training on The Angry Smile

Full-days workshops on The Angry Smile are now available. Please click here for a course description. E-mail Signe Whitson at for details on how to schedule an Angry Smile training session for your group of 15 or more participants.

Angry Smile featured on WFMZ-TV

Co-Author of the Angry Smile, Signe Whitson sat down with WFMZ-TV to talk about the book. See what she has to say.
Segment 1, Segment 2

Early praise for The Angry Smile:

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The Angry Smile as a College Course, February 26, 2009
By Karen Freiberg (Baltimore, MD USA)

At about the time I was asked to develop and teach a Special Topics in Psychology at my University ( Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County), I was introduced to "The Angry Smile" by a former student. WOW! This is a major area of abnormal behavior that abounds in our society, yet we seldom mention it, much less teach our students how to deal with it in others,or overcome it personally. This will be my special topics course.

When I proposed this to my department chair she immediately gave it her enthusiastic approval. My textbook will be "The Angry Smile". This book has academic integrity,covers a wealth of information on understanding, identifying and changing passive-aggressive behavior, and is written in an articulate, student-friendly style.

I feel like I have discovered a gold mine! I am happy to share this treasure with students.I highly recommend "The Angry Smile" for personal enlightenment and to give to others, academically or otherwise.

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Provides good advice clearly and concisely, February 9, 2009
By Stephanie Manley (Houston, TX)

The Angry Smile is one of the best books I have read on anger since reading The Dance of Anger. A well put together book brings about ideas of why their is passive-aggressiveness, the common errors people make when dealing with passive-aggressiveness, and how to best handle the passive-aggressiveness of others. I like that examples are given in a variety of situations, in schools, within close family relations, and in working situations.

Passive-aggressiveness is a difficult behavior to deal with. This type of behavior often throws even the most seasoned person off kilter. We can do two things in response to this type of behavior, we can change our response, and we can try to change the behavior. While we can't always change the behavior of the passive-aggressive person, there is the hope that we can always change our response.

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Now in an updated second edition, February 8, 2009
By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

Now in an updated second edition, The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces is a straightforward, psychological assessment of passive-aggressive behavior and how best to deal with it. Passive-aggressive behavior comes from underlying anger that the passive-aggressive individual cannot or will not express in a healthy way, and so it is expressed as a subtle assault of a thousand cuts - from ignoring or "forgetting" requests to intentionally doing unacceptable work to self-destructive behavior. Outraged reactions to passive-aggressive behavior (throwing a tantrum) emotionally rewards the passive-aggressive individual; The Angry Smile instead teaches ways to calmly defuse potential problems before they start by setting pinpoint clear guidelines, as well as the skill of benign confrontation. A useful reference tool for psychologists and counselors, and an absolute "must-have" for teachers, parents, or anyone with a managerial or supervisory position job. "Counter-aggressive behaviors are the common cold of the anger world. They occur when a nonaggressive person interacts with other people who are aggressive or hostile and, in a sense, 'catches' their anger, as they would an airborne disease. By acting on counter-aggressive feelings, the normally 'healthy' person mirrors the behaviors of the person who had the original anger bug. Both end up behaving badly."

star rating, 1/15/09
Jo Craddock

This is a well-written and interesting look at the behavior that can drive the most well-adjusted person crazy! From the temporary deafness of children, to workplace sabotage, the gamut of PA behaviors are examined -- and, the whys, hows, and suggestions for sane reactions. Recognize the situational vs. pathological, the self vs. others, and how to move beyond the dishonesty.