Balance July 2018 - 35

B A D B E H AV I O U R

HARD HABIT TO BREAK
IF THE
ADJECTIVE
FITS...
If you're wondering
whether your own,
or someone else's,
behaviour is passiveaggressive, simply
ask yourself which of
these fits the
behaviour best
Open
vs closed
Frank vs
manipulative
Honest vs
secretive or deceiving
Sympathetic
vs antagonistic
Cold
vs warm
Stubborn
vs flexible
Defensive vs open
to criticism
Contradictory
vs agreeing
Vindictive
vs forgiving
First behaviour
= passive-aggression
Second behaviour
= more healthy
interactions

IF ASSERTIVENESS
AND CONFRONTATION
ARE DISCOURAGED,
PASSIVE-AGGRESSION
MAY BECOME A HABIT

Some seemingly normal behaviours can be a
sign of passive-aggression: being consistently
late, procrastinating on a task or doing it badly.
It was these types of petty acts that led to the
term being coined in the 1940s, when it was
used to describe the behaviour of soldiers who
couldn't refuse orders, but did their best to
state in a matter-of-fact manner what she said
comply defiantly. Psychologists leapt on the
makes you feel bad. If your husband refuses
term and defined it as a personality disorder.
to make eye contact, tell him his behaviour is
The term is so broad and covers such a
making you feel upset. It might feel like you're
wide range of behaviours that psychologists
letting them 'win', but it's the opposite: you're
no longer use it as a diagnosis, nor do they
not letting them get away with it and if they
consider it to be maladaptive, instead referring
to 'passive-aggressive behaviour' as something
do it again and again, they can't say they
any of us can display. Some, though, rely on it
didn't mean it in a bad way. By being open
to avoid expressing themselves. By displaying
yourself, you may help them open up to
hostility in a covert way, a person can avoid
and explain where their resentment or
direct confrontation or revealing their
anger stems from.
true feelings.
At work, the same applies.
E X P RE S S DEL I VERY
Covering up feelings is just
By
being open about how a
Assertiveness
one reason people display this
colleague's statement or actions
training can assist
kind of behaviour, and it's often
make you feel and doing it in
someone diagnosed
with passive-aggression, front of others, you gain valuable
down to how a person was
teaching them to
brought up. If a child learned to
witnesses should the case end up
express their thoughts being addressed with HR.
suppress their emotions because
and ideas more
it's frowned upon or discouraged,
Sometimes the behaviour is
effectively
passive-aggression becomes a survival
from someone you don't know well
tactic. Similarly, children in controlling
at all: the man who parks his car badly,
households may find the only way to exercise
or the woman in the post office who loudly
some sense of control is by acting this way. If
complains about 'people pushing in' when
assertiveness and confrontation are discouraged,
you've joined a disorderly queue.
passive-aggression may become a habit.
The ideal thing is to respond calmly and
openly. Ask the driver of the other car to move,
OPEN UP AND SAY "AAAARGH"!
or at the post office, a genuine-sounding, "I'm
sorry, did I push in?" should be enough to take
If you find yourself dealing with passivethe wind out of their rage-filled sails, while
aggressive behaviour the first step is to call it
also sending the message that being open and
what it is, at least in your own mind. "Once you
honest is best. But maybe you can't do that.
see the behaviour for what it is - hostility - you
Perhaps the urge to park your car so close to
immediately have more power because you
theirs that they can't open the door is just too
are no longer living in the dark, wondering if
great, or maybe you can't bear the thought of
you're right or wrong," says Wetzler.
letting the lady in the queue 'win' by allowing
"Then you can find ways to deal with it
her to go first. And perhaps right now you're
and get around it, whether that's by setting
planning to shove this magazine in the bin
limits, talking things through, getting the
in a pointless-yet-satisfying display of your
person to recognise they are destroying your
irritation at the words in this article.
relationship, or in some cases, removing
If that's you, then congratulations because
yourself from that person's life."
that's some classic passive-aggression right
Next, be more open yourself. If your sister
there. But who cares, right?
makes a comment about how your new outfit
Yeah, whatever you say... B
helps disguise saddlebag hips, immediately

July 2018 BA LA N CE

35



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance July 2018

Balance July 2018 - 1
Balance July 2018 - 2
Balance July 2018 - 3
Balance July 2018 - 4
Balance July 2018 - 5
Balance July 2018 - 6
Balance July 2018 - 7
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