Passive Aggression

Passive and Aggressive behaviors should be mutually exclusive; they’re a true paradox, don’t you think?

passive AND aggressive

According to a printable worksheet regarding Passive and Agressive Behaviors that I read recently, Passive Communication is described as “When using passive communication an individual does not express their needs or feelings. Passive individuals often do not respond to hurtful situations, and instead allow themselves to be taken advantage of or to be treated unfairly.”

Passive aggressive

Traits that indicate passive communication include (but I’m sure couldn’t possibly be limited to…):

1.) avoidance of any direct human contact (this includes eye contact)


2.) failure to ever get one’s own way/perpetual dissatisfaction


3)  perfection of the art of muttering (aka being “soft spoken” or “shy”), gossiping to others about perceived problems, and/or using written notes as your only form of confrontation

facilitate that passive agression with these easy labels...

4.) consistant state of annoyance (due to ineffectiveness of methods)


5.) increased use of non-verbal expressions (i.e. the “silent treatment”)

silent treatment

According to that same resource, “aggressive communicators violate the rights of others when expressing their own feelings and needs. They may be verbally abusive to further their own interests.”

Passive Aggressive Notes

Traits of aggressive communication include (and yet, refuse to be limited to):

1.) use of criticism, humiliation, and domination towards anyone who might even marginally be construed as inconvenient or threatening


2.) frequent interruptions and failure to listen to others


3.) consistant state of annoyance (due to ineffectiveness of methods)


4.) loud expressions and/or an overbearing manner


If you’re between the ages of 12 and 55 and own a computer (my rough estimate),  you’ve probably chuckled at a few of the humorous passive aggressive moments circulating internet-ville. . . or maybe you’ve seen the books of passive aggressive notes now in circulation. Now, we might laugh, but this is an indicator of a serious problem: If there are enough examples to publish multiple books, then clearly there are too many passive aggressive people in this world. passive notes

As pointed out in an extremely funny explanation of the levels of passive aggression that I read recetly, passive aggressive notes are a level 2 Passive Aggressive move. . . and they are infamous. I’ve received a few of these over the years, actually. What I’ve noticed (as a veteran note-recipient myself) is that they just don’t work. 

They don't actually work.The problem with Passive Aggression (of any kind really) is that it is inherently flawed and utterly unproductive. Ultimately you just end up stewing over your own pet peeves until you explode at some unsuspecting offender – an act which guarantees a self-defense retaliation reaction and subsequent fight. When you can manage a level-headed confrontation, you can resolve issues/frustrations with a little bit of honesty, then move on and quit it with all of the inner annoyed-ness over things gone by . . . 

drop it

Careful, though! Just because you’re annoyed at people, don’t go in the direction of the aggressive communicator, you shouldn’t just spew nastiness at people in the name of “being honest” and “confrontational”. Sometimes you are actually the one being unreasonable. This is why you have to work on perfecting a very specific skill. I like to think of it as:

keep it in

Sometimes people are frustrating. Welcome to the human race, glad you could make it. People’s frustrating aspects do not, however, give you the right to bulldoze them verbally with your frustrations. Remember that you need to cut people slack sometimes. Have the discernment to know when you should engage, and when you should smile, nod, and move on. Try to keep in mind that attitudes (yours included) are just a nasty bit of business occasionally. Allow for grace, particularly if you know the person at fault has other stuff going on. Lets face it, people who irrationally piss everyone around them off? They usually have some underlying stuff that they’re trying to deal with. . . Which leads us to another relevant truth.


So, strive to be happy with your life, and try to approach people with a gracious attitude when they might be taking out their own unhappiness on you. When your snarling inner beast rears its ugly, toothy, rabid head, remember: don't!

You can keep yourself in check and deal with conflict situations like an adult – by approaching someone with honesty and caring. Lets face it, if you don’t care about the person you are addressing, you are in a conflict for only your benefit and aren’t thinking about the entire situation at hand. You have to force yourself to consider both sides of the story (NOT stew internally while gossiping with everyone else you can find) and then keep yourself from going all wolf-tastic and attacking your unsuspecting prey. Ultimately,  if you have legitimate frustrations to address (i.e. so-n-so always forgets to ____, even though they know it’s a safety concern), there is a way to deal with them like a grown up . . . don’t let your anger make you act like an idiot. Not only is is both unattractive and immature, it’s unproductive.

Published by Abby

Dabbling in decoratives is an ongoing obsession. I love having a go at This, That and the Other. . . tackling projects that tickle my fancy, hoarding costumes (for the "Someday" that I own a dress-up tea-house for grown-ups) and hosting themed parties whenever I am not immersed in teaching French and Writing to high school students. In the interest of full transparency, there's something serious you should know: I overuse the ellipsis . . . frequently. Embarassingly enough, it seems to be the punctuation that best captures my stream of thought as it flits off of one subject and towards the next!

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