28 December 2009

I hate passive aggressive behavior

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: family

I can admit that I’m a double standard when it comes to acting passive aggressive. I hate when others do it, but I’m guilty of it too.

When I lived in Germany, people joked that I had a passive aggressive monkey that stayed caged until I let her out to play and wreck havoc. Then, it was hilarious, but as I’ve matured, being passive aggressive is a pain in the a**.

I used to be passive aggressive because I was mortally afraid of confrontation. I had trouble expressing how I felt when people upset me, so I would bottle it up and wait to unleash it. This means I may teach you a lesson by hiding cassette tapes or when I would fight with people, stuff would start coming out like, “six months ago you didn’t call me back and I was mad.”

I’m still not great with confrontation or harsh criticism but I like to think that I do better at talking to people about it and working through it so it’s “resolved.”

I’m also clear with people I’m friends and work with that I want them to be honest with me and tell me if I do something to piss them off. Believe it or not, I’m not a mindreader (if I was, I would be making SO MUCH more money). I don’t always know if I’ve done something that has upset someone or if they have misinterpreted something I said. The popularity of texting, IM and email makes it difficult to determine what’s sarcasm or just mean.

Today, I had a bad run in with the passive aggressive gorilla living in my parents house, which resulted in a big fight and me in tears all day (literally) and en route back to Chicago early. And when this person and I had this blowout I said, in a stunned voice, “why didn’t you tell me you were upset earlier?”

I got no response but realized through this awful situation that I need to be better about talking out my issues and problems with friends and family before it’s too late and it explodes in a tirade.

So what about you? Do you talk to friends or family when they’ve done something to upset you? Or do you have a tendency to be a little passive aggressive at times? Or do you hate when others are passive aggressive to you or others?

Movie review reminder: Just a reminder that my review of The Young Victoria is over on the review blog! My first one ever!


  1. E.P. says:

    Yikes. I’m sorry that you had to leave early and were in tears all day! That’s awful!

    I’ve been known to be passive aggressive in the past because, like you, I hate confrontation. I’ve learned that sometimes just confronting the problem headon is the best thing for me these days, though, and try to do that more often. Even if I am still sometimes passive aggressive.

    Also? When did you live in Germany?

  2. Erin says:

    My whole family is passive aggressive…but I didn’t realize that’s what we were until my husband pointed it out. I’m working on being better about it.

  3. Elle says:

    I have trouble with confrontation, but I don’t think I’m necessarily passive aggressive. I think I try to hold true to the mindset that picking your battles is important so unless something is absolutely pissing me the f—- off, chances are, you’ll get a free pass. Then again, though, I’m not sure that’s the healthiest way to go about things.

  4. Rebekah says:

    Have you ever read the Passive Aggressive Notes blog? You might love it :o)

    Also? Monkey? WTF, Germans?

  5. steph anne says:

    I’ve been told that no one should ever get on my bad side… I guess I’m that bad. Sometimes I get aggressive too quickly/easily without getting the whole story straight because I’m too busy being angry.

    This was a good read and made me realize the things I do and shouldn’t do! :)

  6. Chelsy says:

    Well, being a born and bred Minnesotan, I’m probably passive-aggressive a lot and don’t even realize it. (I’m sure you’ve heard/experienced “Minnesota Nice,” which many people say is actually just PA behavior!)

    But it does bother me when people continuously talk to every person about an issue EXCEPT the person that they are actually having an issue with.

    So that’s Minnesota for you!

  7. SoMi's Nilsa says:

    Passive aggressive behavior is cowardly, IMHO. It might not be easy, but telling someone how you feel (and doing so without being an a**hole about it) is really the only way. I tend to state how I feel. If anything, my fault is being insensitive when I explain my feelings. But, at least they’re out there.

  8. I’m totally with you that makes me crazy!

  9. Cass says:

    The only place I’m passive aggressive is in the workplace. I’m terrified of having it out with a coworker so instead I’m smiling but mentally picturing how I’d like to shove my pen through their head. :-)

    Now in normal non-work life I’m the first one to say something if I’m upset, annoyed, hurt. P-A-ness makes things so much more complicated. Especially with the BF – I force the issue because I know he runs from confrontation. But I think it’s better for us in the long run.

  10. Jessica says:

    Hmmm, I guess I would say it depends on the person if I feel comfortable confronting them or not. When it’s my family, I’m actually less inclined to confront them and just to stew angrily in my room. When it’s a friend or someone I work with, I’m much less passive aggressive. Weird, I guess!

  11. Alas, I tend to suck things up rather than confront. I stew until it passes.

  12. Addict says:

    I prefer the bitch it out right away and get over it approach :-)

  13. I’m so sorry that you had to end your vacay at home early. that is an awful feeling but it’s even more awful that someone made you feel as badly as you do :(

    passive aggressiveness gets under my skin and I just can’t handle it when I see someone acting that way.

  14. Sara Strand says:

    Ew- my inlaws are the top of the passive aggresive bunch. It’s awful. And my boss is. Which is really crappy because instead of coming to me, she’ll talk to my coworkers instead. Yay. :)

  15. thegirlin3k says:

    Sorry to hear about the argument that sent you home early. That’s never a fun way to end a vacation and a nice holiday.

    I really don’t like passive-aggressive behavior and try at all costs to avoid it. However, there are a few people who, when I’m around them, bring out that behavior in me. Fortunately, I start to recognize it and I try and snap out of it. I recall how horrible it feels to be treated like that. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to move past it.

  16. Steph says:

    I totally can be passive aggressive too, but it is something that at least I realize about myself. I can def. spot it a mile away in other people for sure and I despise it!

    I am so sorry you felt so uncomorfortable that you had to leave early. I know how hard that must have been. I wish we could spend our Holidays with people we really want to be around – say, other bloggers?! Thanks for drinking for me! The bells kept me going!

  17. i honestly not a big passive aggressive person – i’m just flat out aggressive!

  18. kiky says:

    good information bos. thank’c a lot

  19. dewapelangi says:

    why you pasive. i like active

  20. oh god. im the exact same way!!!!

  21. Paula says:

    I totally have the same passive aggressive double standard.The thing is because I hate confrontation that’s why I do it, but it frustrates me when someone who I know CAN deal with confrontation demonstrates passive-aggressiveness rather than just coming out with something. Unreasonable of me? Sure, but at least I’m aware!

  22. Nora says:

    I don’t do well with passive-aggressiveness. At all.

    I had a similar run in myself over the holidays and it’s so frustrating because I’m a put-it-all-out-there-on-the-table and talk-it-out kind of a person but I know a lot of people aren’t like that. Annoying. Especially when there are hurt feelings involved, tears and it ends pleasant family time.

    I hope things get better soon for you. Hugs.

  23. phampants says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that we live in the midwest. By definition, we are passive aggressive. (East coast is aggressive in general & the west coast are passive/Laissez-faire)

  24. aaron says:

    It’s ironic to me that you are choosing to respond to this family member’s criticism through your blog, yet you accuse him/her of passive aggressive behavior. Did you try to discuss his or her concerns or did you fall silent knowing you could vent your frustration and anger without fear of recourse on your blog? Be honest with yourself: how much of this situation do you own? You and I both know there’s more to this story than your one-sided posting here.

  25. April says:

    Uh… I’m sorry you had an argument with fam that upset you that much. That just stinks.

    As for me, I am straight up and honest. If people piss me off, I either decide to let it go or have a confrontation. And usually the confrontation happens pretty quick. It’s not something I think about a whole lot.

  26. mandy says:

    I am sorry you had a run in with someone and passive aggressiveness prompting an early return to Chicago. Sending hugs your way friend.

    I am not a fan of passive aggressiveness and I agree, if someone is upset with me I would rather just now. That said, I am really good at passive aggressiveness with my grandmother, thats just how we roll.

  27. Nicole Marie says:

    I’m guilty of the passive aggressive double standard myself, at least when it comes to communicating with my sister and my mom. My sister and I are getting better about it, but we still can’t talk about how we’re feeling without blowing up; tasking still counts as progress, right?

    My favorite thing about my relationship with one of my best friends is the ability on both our parts to be able to say, “I messed up and I’m sorry,” or “When you did ABC it made me feel XYZ and this is why.” It’s a huge relief to not have to worry about having those irrationally angry confrontations that can get dragged out over who knows how long, and I know I should work on being that person in my other relationships as well!

  28. Jamie says:

    I hate passive aggressive behavior. We are grown ups, people just need to say what they have to say directly TO YOU. I don’t have time for games.

    If I have something to say about someone, I’ll tell them. If not, then I’m going to go on about my business. It’s seriously a big pet peeve of mine.

  29. jenn says:

    Passive aggressive behavior is my least favorite thing ever. I have an extremely PA mother-in-law who makes snarky comments so much, that one day I’m going to blow up on her. I have never really feared confrontation & am one to just tell you if you’ve pissed me off. I always hate that awkward “are you mad or not” stage, so I figure it’s better to just ask & move past it!