April 2, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 97  

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Passive aggression = massive aggravation

Penny Lane
Megan O'Toole

A&E Editor

Passive aggression: the fighting style of the weak, and spineless.

Throughout my life, I’ve had the displeasure of dealing with passive aggressive people on a continuous basis — an unfortunate phenomenon, considering I can neither respect nor relate to them.

I’ve always been a very direct person. If I have a problem with you, I’ll tell you. If something’s not working in a friendship or relationship, I’ll take steps to fix it. I’m the type of person who is always willing and quite happy to speak my mind.

Passive aggressives are the type of people who are unwilling to do this. Instead of facing conflicts directly, they’ll deflect and deflect until problems grow to mammoth proportions. Rather than just throwing a verbal punch, they choose to stew in silence and act out in subtly vicious ways.

Some of my least favourite passive aggressive phrases and behaviours are listed below. If any of these ring a bell with you, watch out — you may be closer than you think to a passive aggressive individual.

“Oh, so you want to do it that way?” says the passive aggressive in a purposely innocuous tone.
Hmm, well since I’m already doing it this way, I think it’s fair to assume that I want to do it this way. If you have a problem with what I’m doing, tell me. If you don’t tell me anything, I’ll assume you’re in agreement with me. So either verbalize your criticisms directly or zip it.

“You never tell me:
a) how you feel.”
b) that you love me.”
c) what you’re thinking.”

You could insert any number of other endings to this phrase, but the common thread is they’re all things someone shouldn’t have to ask you to tell them. If I’m not quick to say “I love you,” then I probably don’t. It’s weak and pathetic to try and guilt someone into saying something they don’t mean.

“[Insert cutting personal remark here]. Ha ha, you know I’m totally joking, right?”

No, I don’t know you’re joking. In fact, I know you’ve been waiting a good while to get that remark off your chest; now you can pretend it’s all in good fun, and therefore dodge responsibility. At the same time, you can inwardly cheer at your own cleverness — you finally said what you wanted to say, though you did it in the most ineffective and idiotic way possible. Bravo!

Your passive aggressive buddy is acting cold and distant. You ask him or her what’s wrong. The response: a crisp and immediate, “nothing.”

We all know what “nothing” means: it means “something.” But passive aggressives feel someone else should always have to seek out the problem. Well, guess what — if you can’t respect me enough to be direct, I won’t respect you enough to care what’s wrong.

I could continue, but I think I’ve made my point. Suffice to say, passive aggression helps no-one. Put in the extra effort and learn to speak your mind. If everyone was capable of being honest and direct, our world would be a much happier and more productive place.



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