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Passive-aggressive IS aggression — 13 Comments

  1. JOYCE, this is a phenomenal article – yes, yes, AND YES!!!

    Passive/aggressive behavior is one of the most insidious behaviors that I can think of – it’s trampling boundaries using very subtle tactics, and I have finally learned how to recognize it for what it is.

    “If you WANT to….” when asking someone if they want to go to a certain restaurant. So, when you respond, “Okay, we’ll go to that place,” THEY respond with, “But….I don’t like pasta….”

    Passive/aggressive behavior is a refusal to set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. It’s also utterly crazy-making.

    Great article, Joyce, and right “on time!”

  2. Glad you like the article. I loved the article in HuffPost adn thought it covered most of the points about P-A behaviors. It was “normal” behavior in my family so I didn’t realize what it was for a long time, but of course when I was involved in such things I ‘recognized’ that SOMETHING was off. I love the “no, I’m not mad, why would I be mad?” verbal comments when the body language says YES, I AM MAD loud and clear. LOL

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve also used P-A behaviors myself, but I am working hard too NOT engage in that behavior and to openly confront it when I see it, which, now is not often because the people who engaged in that activitiy are pretty much out of my life.

    Many times when you confront this kind of behavior the disolution of the relationship is the result because when you set boundaries many people who are “hard line” P-A will not respect your boundaries.

    When I was reading this I thought about your “friend” that you used to house sit for…I’m glad you confronted that situation and set boundaries. In many cases if not all, people will treat us how we ALLOW them to treat us.

    • Joyce, my belief is that everyone (bar, none!) has used P-A tactics, at one time, or another. And, I can fully recognize my own P-A behaviors and work on this, seriously. I think that I have used these tactics as a means to facilitate my Avoidance issues! Seriously – P-A tactics don’t require a committed response, but they are certainly “aggressive,” without being blatantly so!

      Yeah………Flo is STILL using P-A tactics and she won’t come out and SAY what she MEANS, but she dances around the issues like a ballerina! I guess those tactics worked for her, throughout her lifetime. Well, I don’t have time for that. I don’t want to do it, myself, and I don’t have the inclination to dance around the proverbial May Pole with anyone, anymore! LOLOLOL


  3. Yea, Truthy, I have been guilty of them myself…I grew up in a family that did not discuss the elephant in the room, and PA behavior is a big factor in that. But confrontation was so severely punished that it became a survival tactic.

    As a teenager it was my only defense against the maternal unit…but I do my very best to be open, honest, and not behave in that manner any more. I also do not “deal with” those people who use that manner of interacting.

    I was so afraid of confronting aggressive behavior. I felt responsible for “making peace” with everyone no matter what they did. I no longer feel that responsibility, andI am more honest with myself as well as with others.

    There’s a joke in our family about the “eleventh commandment” (in addition to the 10 in the Old Testament) The “eleventh commandment” is “do not fool yourself.”

    I think that the “eleventh commandment” is violated more than the total of the other ten. I think “fooling ourselves” becomes a habit that is difficult to break. LOL

  4. Bluejay, it’s important to understand “what” passive/aggressive behavior is and how to identify it, and it’s even more important to know “how” to manage it if we don’t live in a cave and are isolated from every other human being, on earth. LOL!

    Passive/aggressive behavior is a method of management for many people – I’ve actually been passive/aggressive during both fateful marriages, and with other non-romantic interactions. I recognized these behaviors a long while ago, and began speaking truthfully, even if it wasn’t pleasant TO say, “You know, when you say _____, I don’t like it and it makes me angry.” OR, if someone asks me if they can do something to assist me, I give them a succinct yes-or-no answer instead of, “Well, if you want to.” It’s a coping mechanism that began during childhood, and extended into my adult behaviors as a result of the dysfunction. I think that EVERYONE explores this method of communication, at some point during their childhood, and that they quickly either adopt it as a coping mechanism (like me), or drop it if they’re being raised in a relatively normal environment.

    SO………….when I have to deal with someone that is passive/aggressive, there are certain “rules” of response and communication that are helpful to me. Here’s a link that is one of a zillion, and the management techniques are very much to-the-point. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-tips-on-dealing-with-passive-aggressive-people.html?page=1

    • Truthy (I like your name, by the way),

      I will check out the article. I have work-related computer work to do shortly. I’ll check the article out after I’m done with my work. I can so relate to you (just from reading your many posts, I identify with you). Like you, I grew up in a dysfunctional home, figuring so much out over the past several years. I just turned 50 in June – being this age is actually a milestone in many ways, freeing me up if you will. Peace.

  5. Truthy, for some reason my browser won’t let me open that URL and keep it open longer than about 10 seconds, but it does appear to be a pretty good article, Thanks.

    One of my favorite things is the old thing where one person says (to the passive aggressive one) “Are you mad at me?” and of course the PA person says “Now why would you think that?”

    The thing is that when we confront someone there may be a “big stink” but without being HONEST AND UP FRONT with those close to us there is not going to be any communication or resolution of problems.

    My son that lives with me is a very sweet man, and we have very very VERY seldom had any cross words but a while back he was in the work shop and I was out there and if I asked him a question or what ever, he would be sort of “snippy” with me. After a few minutes of this, I decided to confront him about it and I gave him the “I message” of “I feel hurt When you snip at me like that.” He immeditely huged my neck and said “I’m sorry, I’m just cranky today, I shouldn;’t have taken it out on you.”

    Even the best folks sometimes are “snippy” and hurt our feelings, but we need to realize when we feel that knot in our stomach that there is something wrong, and be willing to kindly confront the situation…if the relationship is important we need to keep it honest.

    Some people who are “Hard core” PA folks will of course back stab and seek revenge for any perceived slight from you…all the while smiling while they stab you in the back. Been there and got that tee shirt.

    • Joyce,

      If I am overly tired, I am typically cranky, being short with my kids. Not how I want to be. Usually, I try to keep my mouth shut, get rested, then interact with others. Regarding “PA folks,” I’ve got the tee shirt too! An example of PA behavior – when the sociopath was angry with me, he would occasionally take my cell phone and hide it from me, causing me to search “high-and-low” for it (not caring how long it took me to find it), telling me that I had misplaced it (messing with my mind). In time, either he would just “happen” to find it (typically, he never bothered to search for the missing cell phone) or I would find the cell phone in some location (via my kids or myself finding it). This “person” has been the only one who’s ever done this to me. What a jerk. I know that I never deserved to receive such treatment – it does help me to remember that this behavior came from an immature sociopath who doesn’t know how to effectively communicate with anyone.

    • Bluejay……….I like your ID, as well – love them birds! 😀

      Back to the point about patterns of behaviors. I’ve also noticed that PA people also engage in extreme crazy making behaviors.

      Example of crazy making paraphrased from a website that discusses this behavior:
      ***mother (aunt, husband, wife) purchases two shirts for the target. One is blue, and the other is green.
      ***going out to dinner or special event and the PA says, “Hey, why don’t you wear one of those shirts that I bought for you?”
      ***target puts on the green shirt and comes out ready to leave
      ***PA says, “Why did you pick the green one? Why didn’t you choose the blue one?”

      There is NO WINNING and NO PLEASING a PA. There isn’t. If the target doesn’t recognize the behaviors and brings it to a screeching, grinding halt by dealing directly with them, and disallowing a broad demand like “….wear one of the shirts I bought for you….” The response to that would be, “Exactly, which one would you like me to wear?” If they respond, “You choose,” the target’s response is a succinct, “I don’t feel like wearing either.” END OF DISCUSSION.

      And, if we don’t have to deal with these people, then we back away from them, slowly, as they tend to startle easily and stampede. 😉

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