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Beware of Passive Aggression

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.


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