ast week I mentioned that during my most recent hiatus I had received hundreds of emails asking why I had stopped the blog. I always responded that I had simply said what was on my mind up to that point and that I was just out of ideas. That’s when the suggestions started to flow. (Sorry, but some of them were anatomically impossible).
oday, I want to reach into the mail-bag and address another Hypnoling’s question. Michael C., of Ferndale, Michigan writes, “What exactly is Passive/Aggressive behavior, and how can you effectively deal with PA people?”
Great question Michelito! Actually, I get this question all the time, even from fellow practitioners
Yep, I’ll get on that as soon as I can. Do you have any resource material I can use? How about an outline of what you want it to look like. Have you looked at the blog next door? Do you think Jorge might be a better pick for this?
First let’s take a look at a few definitions so we are using the same words to describe the same phenomena. My personal favorite, reportedly comes from Thomas Jefferson, “There is nothing as difficult as that which is undertaken with reluctance.” But, don’t take my or Tom’s word for it, the Online Oxford English Dictionary defines Passive-Aggression as:
Of or denoting a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, I’m pretty sure you have a growing list of people in your mind who fit this definition. Because, quite frankly, they’re everywhere; am I right?
PA is one of those things that everyone talks about and everyone says they ‘hate’, but there is no single, official, universally accepted definition. In fact, I went to 6 different references and I got six slightly different definitions. However, there were four common behavior traits that seem to describe the behaviors, if not the underlying personality quirk.
The four behavioral/emotional tells for PA people and behavior are:
1. The prospect of having to deal with ‘that’ person makes you cringe before you actually meet with them.
2. They make unreasonable demands and hold OTHERS to unreasonable standards (standards which most of ‘them’ couldn’t meet on the best day they ever had).
3. They rarely, if ever express disagreement or reluctance directly. Rather they use backhanded compliments and biting or sarcastic ‘humor’ to make their point and torpedo your party barge. So when you call them on their behavior they will say, “You’re too sensitive. I was just kidding.” Or even worse, they’ll agree to your face, then completely disregard you, the team and/or the project.
4. They are consistent in their negative behavior over time.
One of my personal favorite descriptions of PA people is, “They will smile while throwing you under the buss and then get you to feel guilty for bleeding on the carpet.”
Sound like anyone you know?
Ok, so that was 500 words to just agree that, “We know it when we see it, and it sucks!”
Passive aggression can be directed towards a particular person or even to an entire group. The underlying causes can fill a library, but regardless of the reasons that compel them to be pains in the butt, it’s not easy to be on the receiving end of such, quite frankly, infantile behavior.
So, how can one successfully navigate these situations? Here are XX proven techniques that will allow you to maintain your Zen while keeping your project or life on track:
- Don’t pick up the rope! Especially when encountering this type of behavior from someone for the first time; you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Also, the PA person is on a fishing expedition and you’re the trophy. They can’t get you into the boat if you don’t take the bait in the first place.
For example, if someone says “Thank you” in a sarcastic or obviously disingenuous tone, simply say, as sincerely as possible, “You’re welcome” and go about your business.
- If you
have to call them out:
- Stay in the present. Stick to the SPECIFIC behavior that just led to your conversation. Don’t bring up with they did last week or, even worse, every example they engaged in since you have known them.
- Stick to “I Statements.” ‘I don’t appreciate comments like that. They make me feel disrespected and I don’t deserve that.’ The other person is going to blame the whole situation on you for misunderstanding or being too sensitive; simply say, “That is irrelevant. This is how that comment made me feel and I want you to know that I won’t put up with it. Then END THE CONVERSATION.
- Walk away or simply avoid then whenever possible. It takes at least two to argue.
- Set appropriate consequences. Let the other person know what will happen in similar situations in the future. For example, a friend is late for the third time meeting you for a movie or dinner. Tell them that in the future you will simply go the show or order without them and they can catch up later if they wish.
- Don’t try to change them. They are perfectly happy making everyone else miserable, they won’t change because you got upset. Know that that’s how they are and either cut them from your life, or use the above to minimize the damage.
That’s the epistle for today Hypnolings. This is a short post, but it is packed with layers of info. I hope you find guidance as you unfold the layers…or not…Because,
The choice is always yours.