Well-being

Passive Aggressive Behavior Is Deliberate

The Passive Aggressive story...There’s someone I vaguely know who has been getting me really frustrated recently with, well, just the way she is! She comes across as okay, a bit wet if I’m honest, but ok. The thing is, she just doesn’t perform very well. She will arrive late, not really pull her weight and giggles a lot. It drives me mad! I get so frustrated with her and I spend ages trying to figure out just what it is that makes her tick. When I try and get something a bit more firm out of her, she gives airy fairy answers, just floats away and continues to under-perform. I’m often left fuming and feeling deflated.

I’ve been searching for an explanation and looking at the different management techniques I should employ with her when I started reading more on human behaviors. There are some great studies out there and I’ve realized that she is demonstrating some classic ‘passive aggressive’ behavior traits.

Passive aggressive behavior is a deliberate, but covert, way of expressing anger. It is designed to exert some form of revenge or point scoring on someone for perceived wrongdoing. In some cases, people can get pleasure from this as well as getting the initial anger out of them.

Passive aggressiveness can display itself in various ways. Some of these are:

Being consistently late for appointments or meet ups.

Not doing well at something in order for their failures to reflect negatively, not on them, but on their ‘friends’ or supervisors.

Appearing to be accommodating to your requests, but not actually doing anything that you ask of them. Nodding in all the right places, but not making any push to do a thing.

The thing about these types of behaviors is that the person will generally deny any knowledge of wrongdoing and be mock-offended by any kind of finger pointing in their direction. If you’re not careful you can come off looking pretty bad in any direct confrontation so be careful!

I’ve often wondered what this really means and I was having a discussion recently where I realized that this form of bullying, or control mechanism over others, is more widely used than you might think.

It could be that we feel a negative thought and instead of coming right out and saying it in a constructive or direct way, we instead say something which will subtly get our point across without leading to conflict...or at least we hope. The thing is, this type of behavior can leave the person we are directing it at to hurt and without a course of action. It can be useful to the giver, but to the person receiving it it can bring them down, which it is designed to do, usually with more questions in their mind than a direct comment.

Whether in the workplace, social situations or in the home, I think there are many instances that go by that we pass off as ‘normal’ when we are subjected to comments or actions designed to belittle us. We must try to be aware of our own actions and stay true to our values. Being frustrated at another person's personality will not be sufficient to change it.

Have you come across any of these traits or instances? How did it make you feel and did you manage to sort anything out?


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Mainy is a mum blogger from the U.K. She lives on the south coast with her 2 children and partner.