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To ask what's so wrong about being passive aggressive?

(141 Posts)
editthis Wed 31-Dec-14 18:28:33

I am genuinely interested to know; it seems to be the biggest crime possible on Mumsnet. I assume it's because people think honesty should trump everything else, and there is obviously truth in that. But, as any AIBU aficionado knows, there are so many shades of social nicety, and so many possible reasons for what we perceive to be bad behaviour, I can't see why the suggested first course of action is aggression (as opposed y

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 31-Dec-14 18:30:19

It's spineless.

editthis Wed 31-Dec-14 18:31:01

Sorry, stupid iPhone. As opposed to PASSIVE aggression. Like telling someone to f* off, for instance. Often, I find suggested responses that seem to me to be quite reasonable, or of the biting-one's-tongue variety, are slammed as passive aggressive. Is it really the worst crime?

morningtoncrescent62 Wed 31-Dec-14 18:31:03

It's a nasty way of controlling others.

steff13 Wed 31-Dec-14 18:32:26

It's kind of douche-y, I think. I always think people are passive-aggressive when they are upset about something, but are too chicken/childish/whatever to have a grown-up conversation about what's bothering them. So instead they make passive-aggressive comments to sort of poke at the person they're upset with.

editthis Wed 31-Dec-14 18:37:01

steff13 Yes, that was always my interpretation of the phrase, too - until I joined Mumsnet. But I seem to be reading more threads where people are accused of being passive aggressive when they have responded politely enough to something, so it seems, rather than begun an altercation...

calmexterior Wed 31-Dec-14 18:38:03

It's sulky and infuriating and makes the victim feel angry but if they react they are seen to be the one in the wrong:

BeHoHoHove Wed 31-Dec-14 18:39:30

But if you like doing it, that's fine



wink

editthis Wed 31-Dec-14 18:40:57

mornington I suppose I just don't find it nastier, or more controlling, than telling someone to f* off. But obviously that's an extreme example...

Gawjushun Wed 31-Dec-14 18:42:37

It makes the person on the other end of passive aggressive comments question themselves. "are they really being a jerk? I must be overreacting." It's completely manipulative and it grinds the victim down. Just come out and tell me the problem!

steff13 Wed 31-Dec-14 18:42:59

I don't think being aggressive is necessarily the alternative to being passive-aggressive; being direct is. There's a middle ground between being passive-aggressive and telling someone to fuck off, I think.

misskangaandroo2014 Wed 31-Dec-14 18:43:49

Because it makes the sin of being indirectly bitchy / something 6 year olds try. Thus calling someone it becomes a way of implying someone is emotionally immature. Because. Of course we're all expert enough to diagnose passive aggressive behaviour via our computer screens wink

Hatespiders Wed 31-Dec-14 18:45:02

It's manipulative and underhand, as I see it, and lacks moral honesty.
I think if someone is PA, it implies they're controlling in a masked fashion. It's a weaselly way for people to get others to do what they want.

NYCHIC Wed 31-Dec-14 18:46:27

Passive aggressiveness is a way of trying to control others' behaviour. It's not a nice trait

museumum Wed 31-Dec-14 18:47:58

I've been called "passive aggressive" on MN when I was actually being sarcastic. I think some situations call for sarcasm and in my world people respond much better to a drippingly sarcastic "that was a nice thing to say!" Rather than the blunt MN favourite "did you mean to be so rude?"
In my world the sarcastic version often leads to diffusion through humour and an easy back-down whereas the blunt approach tends to escalate the confrontation.
But maybe that's just my culture?

Moresproutsplease Wed 31-Dec-14 18:48:04

It messes with your head. If you're on the receiving end of it, it can be horrendous. However you respond to it you can come across as mad.

(very PA ex-h, PA ex inlaws, accomplished PA close colleague)

HedgehogsDontBite Wed 31-Dec-14 18:48:18

I see a lot of responses labelled as 'passive aggressive' when they're not. Real 'passive aggressive' is destructive and hurtful and done in a way which makes it very difficult to challenge without looking like the trouble maker.

CatCushion Wed 31-Dec-14 18:50:51

Telling someone to f off isn't the preferred alternative. That's just being aggressive. Assertiveness is the preferred alternative, where a polite and confident approach invites an equally polite and confident and equally respectful response.

Somemothers Wed 31-Dec-14 18:51:36

Because it's a cowards thing

When my mil says
" your so brave I would never have been able to carry off being a single mum"

Fuck you just say what's on your mind giving somone shit wrapped up as stake

Back2Two Wed 31-Dec-14 18:56:11

steff the middle ground is being assertive. That's the healthy way to communicate your feelings, needs, emotions.
You say what you mean without laying blame or anger on the other individual but still being firm and clear about your own needs and feelings.

To generalise, a person can be passive, agressive, passive-agressive or assertive.

ninetynineonehundred Wed 31-Dec-14 18:56:37

Because it is aggressive.
Simple as that really.
The intention of passive aggression is to punish / control / make someone feel bad.

It's just as bad as being overtly aggressive but it is normally very subtle and hard to pick up on.

It's designed to confuse and mislead and because of this it can mess with someones head badly.

A single passive aggressive action is one thing but it can be very abusive when sustained. Because it is so badly understood people often don't understand that they are passive aggressive, that they are living with it, or believe it when it comes out. That can mean that the person living with it feels trapped (a broken arm from a dv situation is generally accepted as being a reason to get out)

It's extremely nasty

cruikshank Wed 31-Dec-14 18:56:42

Most people on the here use the phrase 'passive aggressive' wrongly. Passive aggressive behaviour would be, for example, not wanting to go to a party with your partner but instead of just saying you don't want to go, doing things that prevent either of you going like leaving work late, or 'forgetting' to pick up the food you were meant to be taking. It's doing something to put a spoke in an activity/duty, an act of sabotage, without actually coming out and refusing to do something. It's sulky, it's weak, it isn't a nice character trait but it is certainly not what pretty much everyone on mumsnet who uses the phrase thinks it is.

Sparklingbrook Wed 31-Dec-14 18:57:43

Yes just be aggressive aggressive. grin

therockinghorseroll Wed 31-Dec-14 18:57:53

The way I see it, there's passive, there's aggressive, there's passive-aggressive and there's assertive.

Being assertive is probably the best way of sorting out issues, but it often takes a lot of guts, and probably a lot of practice.

A passive-aggressive dig at someone who has already made a passive-aggressive dig at you is ok in my book.

However, other times it's a totally ridiculous way of dealing with things. An example - years ago I worked in a pub, my male colleague took a food order which he then forgot to take up to the kitchen.

For whatever reason, I don't know why, the table decided that I had taken the order. Their food was obviously taking a long time to arrive (which I was oblivious too, having not taken their order) and one of them came up to the bar, ordered some crisps and sneered at me "well I suppose I'm going to be needing these, aren't I?" which obviously went completely over my head.

By the time they'd been sitting there an hour they eventually came up and ranted. Obviously apologies were made, money refunded etc etc. But honestly just WHAT was the point of coming up and making a snide comment instead of saying "excuse me, will our food be long?"

therockinghorseroll Wed 31-Dec-14 19:00:14

Oh, x post back2 grin

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