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Beware of Passive Aggression

March 25, 2017 Leave a comment

No response is a response.  No update is an update.  Even non-engagement is a form of engagement.  Depending on the context, such behaviors may or may not mean anything.  However such can be enough to create an atmosphere of negativity in any relationship.  What can make matters worse is if the attacked party doesn’t want to call-out such misbehavior for fear of creating an awkward situation and what-not – the resulting tension that builds up from within will simmer the person in his own juices.

Aggression, even if passive, is still aggression.  It’s actively in use by a lot of people in the normal course of daily life (intentionally or otherwise), as an offensive approach against another party.  It’s a deceptive way of oppression by its very subtle nature.

What is Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Passive aggressive behavior takes many forms but can generally be described as a non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behavior. It is where you are angry with someone but do not or cannot tell them. Instead of communicating honestly when you feel upset, annoyed, irritated or disappointed you may instead bottle the feelings up, shut off verbally, give angry looks, make obvious changes in behavior, be obstructive, sulky or put up a stone wall. It may also involve indirectly resisting requests from others by evading or creating confusion around the issue. Not going along with things. It can either be covert (concealed and hidden) or overt (blatant and obvious).

Passive aggression is a destructive pattern of behavior that can be seen as a form of emotional abuse in relationships that bites away at trust between people. It is a creation of negative energy in the ether which is clear to those involved and can create immense hurt and pain to all parties.

There are many ways that can be considered passive aggressive forms of attacks that can come up on any normal day.  To name but a few examples:

1.  You can practice selective self-censoring to withhold information.  This has the effect of shutting out certain people from your life, isolating them in a way.

2. Rather than engaging with people in a healthy debate in social media or via other venues, you shout over them literally or figuratively, or if in social media, you outright just delete their comments.

3. You exclude certain people from work or social events “by accident.”  Either that or you intentionally don’t show up to events organized by someone you don’t like.

4. You talk over someone, pretending they don’t exist, or you interrupt them mid-sentence while they’re still speaking.

5. You let them speak their mind to learn information that can be used against them in the future or at the very least so that you can silently judge them for something.

6. You downplay the other person’s concerns, basically refusing to accept that what he feels about a certain matter is important.  This can be done by stating a concern that might be objectively more important than the other person’s concern.  Such doesn’t make what the other person feels any less valid, but you present it to the person that way anyway.

7. You use a person’s emotions against him – make him react.  Emotional blackmail such as making him feel guilty about something is one way.  If you know the person is sensitive about a particular matter, then bring it up to “trigger” him; he might say or do something stupid as a result.

There are many more ways of inflicting passive aggression.  And speaking for myself, I know I’m actually guilty of practicing a few of those ways.

I can think of only a few counter-measures to combat such attacks, though one’s success can vary, and such are oftentimes easier said than done.

1. Stop caring at all.  Sometimes ignoring such passive aggressive behavior is the best and only thing you can do.  Give in to such an attack and your attacker will know to continue using it against you.

Be aware, however, that not caring can only go so far.  Remember that we’re all still human; at some point the passive aggression will eventually catch-up and still screw with your mind.  You might not care now, but in the long run such can only go so far.  A sustained assault of aggressive passivity will eventually create an environment that’s toxic enough to poison your mind and break you.

2. You don’t have to put up with this – call the person out.  Confront the abusive behavior with evidence and force the attacker to explain himself.  And if necessary, use the court of public opinion as the stage to expose your attacker – let’s just be honest that people love to judge, so you might as well use that very human nature to your advantage.  (Yes, this is in a way manipulative in nature.  But the point is to use whatever is at your disposal to fight back.)  Karma is a bitch, so if needed then apply the same treatment to the person – if absolutely necessary, do what you need to do.

At the end of the day, I think the best that you can hope for is to be aware if someone is assaulting you this way.  If you can avoid the person altogether then that’s the best.  But if there’s no way you can avoid any interaction, then at least watch out and be sensitive (paranoid?) to what he says and does to you and react accordingly.

 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Ingratitude is the New Normal

March 4, 2017 Leave a comment

There’s a principle I learned some time ago, from one of my supervisors over the years, about being grateful when people do their job.  The idea is that we shouldn’t thank people for doing the job they’re expected to do for exactly that reason.  We only thank them if they go beyond what’s expected, and then some.

Although I feel a bit uncomfortable about the idea, in a twisted sort of way I can see why it makes sense.  It’s not like we’re ungrateful to people who do their job – they’re getting paid to do their job anyway.  And it’s only right that they do their job for that same reason.  Perhaps the only time where it makes sense to be thankful to someone when they meet your expectations is when the person does that for free.

However, as time goes on, our expectations from people change.  Basically, we expect more and more from them, especially as they grow in skill and experience.  Delivering above and beyond moves the baseline expectations higher; it becomes the new standard.  And if we still subscribe and apply this idea of when we should thank people, then this leads to less reasons to be grateful for people who deliver more than what’s required from them – what they do to go beyond is “normal” and “expected,” after all (part of their job already).  This eventually leads to a culture of ingratitude to people delivering above expectations, which I think, over time, can become a culture of taking any form of contribution, no matter how great it might be, for granted.

Ingratitude is the new normal.  Perhaps I’m just saying this because I’ve been a recipient of said under-appreciation over the years and the cynical side of me is showing once more.  It has come to the point that I’ve become suspicious about the motives of people for the rare times I get any kind of recognition at all.  But outside of my own experience, I have observed this happen to many people as well; I feel it’s not just me.

If our culture is turning into one of ingratitude, then so be it – and to think, this is for delivering more than what’s expected!  If someone only delivers the minimum – what’s expected, nothing more, nothing less – then there’s this tendency to be disappointed because the person didn’t go above and beyond.  And when that person fails to meet the minimum expectations, we get angry –  this is understandable, obviously this aspect is justifiable because if we have any right to feel angry, then it’s only when people fail to do what they’re expected to do, and not because they only did what’s expected, or they didn’t do more than that.  Now, if the person is actually in a lousy job in the first place, then I think it’s really not fair to expect much from the person, too.

The good news is that we don’t have to subscribe to this idea.  It’s up to us to choose to be grateful and show appreciation to people who do their job, even if they just do exactly that, and even if they aren’t interested or able to give more than just that.  In this day and age, expectations are high enough such that the ability to meet said expectations isn’t a mediocre matter anymore, but in my opinion an actual achievement worth celebrating.  If it’s not too much for us to be grateful to people meeting expectations, then let’s do that, for one way or another such an act would be appreciated.  And I’d venture to say, we’d personally appreciate any gratitude afforded to us as well, since we all carry high expectations to deliver, too.

Ingratitude doesn’t have to be the new normal if we consciously choose to be thankful.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy