Over the years I’ve learned to filter the thoughts traveling at the speed of light before they slip involuntarily out of my mouth. (Sometimes my thoughts have a mind of their own). While I have definitely grown in this area thanks to my mentor and am grateful I still have a job, a major struggle for me in the workplace is the passive aggressive personality. Interacting with them is like interacting with a foreigner, frustrating because we need to communicate but have no idea what the other person is saying.
I am so confused by this personality type that I had to complete research on how to interact with them as if it were a homework assignment.
Here’s what I found, and the corresponding link!
“Passive aggressive” has roots in psychology. The basic idea is that someone grows up with a parent who makes a lot of unreasonable demands. The child can’t resist openly, and so instead resists subtly.
It’s like that in life too.
“Passive aggressive” is about being passive, appearing to be “ok” with things, and saying “yes.” The passive aggressive will say “yes” to requests even if they don’t want to do them. They don’t have the strength to stand up for themselves and just say no assertively.
So a passive aggressive is someone who just gets pushed about throughout life simply because they can’t say no. In their world, there are a lot of demands placed upon them at any given time. Since they can’t say “no,” instead they resist very subtly. They cause problems.
To use slightly different words, a passive aggressive appears to accept most requests made of them, but inside may dislike those requests, and will fight against them subtly. They lack the strength and confidence to openly refuse or object. Passive aggressive people appear to accept a situation – or pretty much anything – when underneath the are uncomfortable with the idea so they fight against it subtly.
As this site says, passive aggressive is:
A defense mechanism that allows people who aren’t comfortable being openly aggressive get what they want under the guise of still trying to please others. They want their way, but they also want everyone to still like them.
Here’s another great definition:
indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. There’s a disconnect between what a passive-aggressive person says and what he or she does. For a passive-aggressive person, true feelings are shared through actions, not words.
Passive aggressives use tools to achieve their objectives : masked feelings, feigned ignorance, avoidance, feigned forgetfulness, subtle sabotage, procrastination, and flaking.
I struggle with this personality type because I am the total opposite. I have no problem speaking my mind and am unconcerned with whether someone will like me or not based on my feedback. My experience has been that it takes more energy and is more stressful (for me) to stew in silence than it is to just state my opinion and move on.
Even so, I still have guidelines to follow before voicing my opinion (in a respectful way).
- Is what I want to say, something that needs to be said
- Do I need to be the one to say it