October 31, 2012

What did you say?

I know passive-aggressive behavior when I experience it. We have all worked with someone who quietly undermines us, while having a ready alibi for doing so. We know people who do a task so badly they are never asked to it again. My recent favorite was a dinner invitee who insisted on bringing something. When pressed, I suggested something, a side dish, a vegetable? Of course, it is a sure bet that said invitee arrived bearing anything-but-that. There is a particular poison to this behavior because it is elusive as smoke. Me, I come from a family of aggressive-aggressives so I am always surprised. No one would contradict someone in this sly way. We were loud and confrontational. I don't recommend that approach either, but, at least, you always knew where you stood.

Now my friend M and I have coined a term for another odd, slightly-less-toxic behavior. We named it aggressive-passive. Writ large, I have seen it played out often on JUDGE JUDY. For example, on the show, a friend phones and begs for money and when asked to pay it back, the friend claims it was a gift or an offer, not a loan. No one has ever asked me for money, but I have had the experience of being given a directive and either refusing or not responding, only to have the order forgotten or laughed off. It makes me feel wrong-footed.

When the request is outlandish, it is easy to assume it is a joke and it will go away. "Take me with you to Europe. You pay." "Help me move this Sunday." However, for smaller demands, I am unsure. Maybe it is just thrown into conversation to see if anyone picks up the gauntlet. "Take me to dinner." "Meet me now." That's the passive part, I think. Either response, "are you kidding me?" or "ok, let's do it" is acceptable.

So aggressive-passive is not the poison that passive-aggressive behavior is, but still . . . . STOP IT, PLEASE or Stop it, please?

1 comment:

M said...

Great post! Yes, we must spread the word about this phenomenon. :)