A Guide To Cultivating Your Passive Aggressiveness And Fear Of Confrontation

Despite common conception, being successfully passive aggressive and highly afraid of conflict isn’t the path of least resistance. In other words, despite what people may think, avoiding confrontation isn’t the Easy Way Out, and this is evidenced by its enormous benefits – people see you as a martyr, you’re the recipient of pity lays, you’re thought of as ‘the nice guy,’ you get to be a ‘doormat.’ No – it takes many years of practice before an individual can reap the benefits of successful passive aggression and conflict avoidance. Here then is a rudimentary, step-by-step, *parodic* guide for those who are thinking about choosing this stoic path in life.

SPEND YEARS CULTIVATING UNCONSCIOUS ‘I’M NOT WORTHY’ BELIEFS AND A FEAR OF CONFRONTATION

As you come of age, make sure to develop a very generalized stance that always prioritizes others’ needs and desires before your own. These priorities shouldn’t be based on principle; the foundation of your stance should be an unconscious feeling that if people seem like they know more than you, they simply do know more than you. In general, the default experience should be that people you’re intimidated by Know What They’re Talking About and you don’t. (Note that this maxim is a toxic loop in and of itself, wherein the automatic experience of someone you’re intimidated by Knowing What They’re Talking About results in an incrementally higher amount of intimidation, which spurs an even deeper experience of inferiority, etc.)

BEGIN TO FEEL OVERWHELMED BY THE FACT THAT THERE ARE NO OBJECTIVE OPINIONS

As you grow older, realize that your point of view is not the only reasonable one possible, and that there are, theoretically, limitless ways one can interpret a situation – tons within relative standards of reason. Therefore, anyone’s point of view can be empathized with. Subsequently, begin to feel that your point of view will always be, in some way, wrong, or leaving important variables unaccounted for. Or, at least, become incredibly suspicious of taking hard stances.

All this weird reasoning in which you’re unintentionally engaging should lead to two things, during conflict: 1) you’re more likely to be convinced into agreement with an opinion that puts someone else’s needs before yours, and 2) confidence in your ability to ‘know things’ is further eroded by the fact that it might not, in fact, be possible to know anything at all.

DEVELOP INNATE BAFFLEMENT TO FORCEFULLY-PUT ARGUMENTS THAT SEEM LOGICALLY COHERENT

As time moves forward – perhaps during your high school or college years – meet seemingly logical arguments that are presented firmly, forcefully, and a with righteous degree of self-confidence with what is basically a sort of mental diarrhea. In other words, when in conflict with someone who’s not scared shitless of confrontation, your mind should go completely blank – you should be totally unable to form any sort of reasonable response to what’s being said. Further, as explained in the point above, you agree with what’s being said – you’re actually, temporarily convinced by the stance offered. Combined with your early-developed fear of confrontation, developing innate bafflement to forcefully-put arguments that seem logically coherent will ensure that even if you do get into confrontation, you quickly get out of it by losing hard.

FAIL TO REALIZE AND BELIEVE IN THE FOLLOWING IDEAS

  1. You are a definitely not-insane human being who has the capacity of reason. Therefore, your opinions can be considered valid.
  2. Confidence is not correlated with correctness.
  3. You know much less about how other people see you than you think you do.
  4. Being ‘wrong’ happens to everyone, every day, their entire lives.
  5. You are entitled to be ‘right.’
  6. You are entitled to act ‘right’ when you believe you are ‘right.’
  7. You are entitled to argue that you’re ‘right’ when you believe that you are ‘right.’
  8. Because objective ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ do not exist, arguments can be understood as points of view.
  9. Because objective ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ do not exist, conflict can be understood as an exercise in compromise between two points of view rather than a battle of egos, despite any attitude one ‘brings to the table.’
  10. No one likes excessive passive aggressiveness.
  11. Being passive aggressive is a way to procrastinate.
  12. If you’re not a sociopath, it’s okay to get what you want.

MAKE UP FOR FEAR WITH PASSIVE AGGRESSIVENESS

Develop ways to complain or express negative sentiments in a way that implies your negativity while, superficially, expressing neutrality, curiosity, and/ or objective interest. Attach barbs to people’s arguments with endless qualifiers and implicit expressions that you don’t agree – but never disagree outright. Show disapproval of one’s actions with repeated questioning (i.e. “Are you sure you want to do that? Do you want to do this instead?”) rather than direct statements (“Please stop doing that, I don’t like it”). Tell people you want them to do something for you by asking them if they want to do it for you, rather than asking them if they will do it for you (i.e. “For some reason my laptop’s not letting me log in. I know you’re good with computers and I have to go do this other thing, so, do you want to figure it out? I know you’re busy.” vs. “Will you do me a favor and figure out this problem for me?”). Conduct conflict over notes left on the kitchen table.

ALWAYS BE SORRY FOR BEING RIGHT

On occasions when your stance is very obviously the ‘right’ one, apologize for it. “I’m so sorry for being late, my wife, she just had the baby an hour ago. It was totally unprofessional of me to show up at this meeting late. My most sincere apologies.” Practice this behavior in positions of inherent authority: “I’m sorry to bother you, sir, but I think you, ahem, may have not seen that there is a line here and that you’ve cut in front of it? So sorry to bother you about this…”

DEVELOP A ‘CHILL’ PHILOSOPHY

Begin to believe in a philosophy completely justifies being passive at all times. The philosophy should mostly hold that conflict ‘isn’t worth it.’ In other words, one of the primary tenets behind your philosophy should be that your desires are not worth any anxiety or discomfort that would be involved if those desires were incongruous with another’s and as such presented conflict. If the above steps are followed, maintaining such a chill philosophy will be a relatively easy, completely sustainable endeavor. TC mark

image – Plenty O’Toole

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  • Quimby

    This sort of makes me want to give you a hug. There, there

  • Aplacetoputthings

    Ouch. I hate that you just described me.

  • Ceqli

    GREAT article; even though it’s satire, I needed that moment of introspection. I’m SUPER passive-aggressive, in a very similar way to what you just described, and I tend to avoid conflict as a result. That also results in me not getting what I want much of the time.

    So, In future interactions with people, I’m going to state my opinion. I’m going to push for what I want. Thank you

    • dechonmustard

      Amen.

    • Hn

      what is this satire of?

      • Guesty

        a guide to ____

  • http://intervital.tumblr.com eileen

    i actually screamed out fuck that shit when I read that second to last paragraph. i think i’m pretty passive aggressive but i’m working on being my direct and forward about what i want and what I believe is right. thanks for the reminder of what not to be. and btw i love the lessons. i need to keep that somewhere. thank you and keep on writing~!

  • Jordan

    HOLY FUCK!  This is all at once a condemnation, a wake up call, and a call to arms.

    You did a great job at singling out all of these minute, increasingly innate behaviors.  I could relate a story or feeling to probably 99% of what you talked about here.  Putting yourself second, bewilderment at people who DON’T think they shouldn’t be a verbal/mental steamroller about their opinions, an emotional/logical stance that everything can be wrong (especially yourself), retreating from cementing stances and opinions, the list goes on and on.

    Very very very well done!

  • Jordan

    HOLY FUCK!  This is all at once a condemnation, a wake up call, and a call to arms.

    You did a great job at singling out all of these minute, increasingly innate behaviors.  I could relate a story or feeling to probably 99% of what you talked about here.  Putting yourself second, bewilderment at people who DON’T think they shouldn’t be a verbal/mental steamroller about their opinions, an emotional/logical stance that everything can be wrong (especially yourself), retreating from cementing stances and opinions, the list goes on and on.

    Very very very well done!

    • Jordan

      Contributor’s note: I am not passive aggressive!  Just highly averse to confrontation and mostly introverted haha

  • Aa

    Always happy to see a new BSG article. This was great.

  • Tyler Fox

    “ALWAYS BE SORRY FOR BEING RIGHT”  …. So effing true… So true. Damn.

  • coffeeandinternets

    This article really resonates with me.  Sure, everyone can be passive aggressive.  We’ve all been that person who is at least tempted to leave a note about taking the trash out. But I have this longtime friend and she’s someone who I — and quite a few journal articles — would classify as P/A to the point of disorder.  She doesn’t have the capacity to handle confrontation, and perceived slights against her build up until she does things like note-leaving/malicious gossip as a way to vent her anger.

    It’s hard to deal with P/A’s who are upset because there never seems like a right time to say shit — it’s their very nature to engage in passive protest that you’d be hard pressed to isolate and identify. But when things continue past the point of reasonable convo, the ensuing confrontation is less ‘peace treaty’ and more ‘violent rage.’ After all, it’s frustrating to deal with someone whose M.O. is leaving notes about utility bills when it’s NOT EVEN THE BILL THEY’RE MAD ABOUT, THEY JUST THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE INVITED THEM TO THAT PARTY LAST WEEK.  This freak-out response only helps the P/A feel more justified in their behavior.

    I’ve survived two P/A episodes with her, separated by a span of three years — enough time to forget the terrible college years. This recent situation happened after she moved to my town, and quickly turned three other friends against me — at one point, they proclaimed I was a ‘Hipster Mean Girl’ without even, like, a TRACE of humor about it.  Anyway, I’m a more secure person these days and could reach out to these friends with the disclaimer that I was more than willing to admit fault if they would just explain why they were upset.  I discovered that their reasons were because the P/A would helpfully ‘interpret’ some of my actions in such a way that I was painted as the one with P/A tendencies and secretly hated the group but couldn’t bring myself to say it. 

    That’s the worldview of P/A’s, though — they truly believe everyone is as P/A as they are.  If someone is ‘overtly aggressive’ to them, they feel like victims — and to them, aggression is any action that isn’t completely passive.   I should want to hate this friend for all this shit, but at the end of the day I feel like an awful person who’s abandoning a friend in need, as I’ve ceased communication with her.  When I did try to talk to her about it, careful to not be accusing, she agreed with me initially and then turned and sought solace in others who would promise that she’s a nice person who the universe conspires against.

    The world happens to them, not the other way around.  

    tl;dr I survived Passive Aggressive Disorder and all I got was super depressed.

  • Loljame

    well done, well done

  • Guest

    this was seriously worrying. you definitely hit a nerve there. so. totally. true.
    it’s like a view into my brain, except that i’m so perpetually in a state of innate bafflement due to reading about everyone else’s views that i would never, ever be able to formulate my thoughts into words.

  • Enah Cruz

    How come this is so accurate? I hate you.

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/55j

  • Temprano8

    I was going to share this article on Facebook… and then I stopped myself because I was worried I might upset some of my close friends because they might think I was calling them out on THEY’RE passive aggressive behavior. Excuse me while I call my shrink; I just had a breakthrough.

    • Temprano8

      Aw I used the wrong “their”. And capitalized it. Fuck.

    • Tyrell Blackburn

      Your friends on Facebook might consider your sharing of this article a passive aggressive behaviour in itself :P

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/55j

  • pooter

    i don’t get what the problem is.  seems reasonable

  • Emily

    It scares me how accurate this is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cake4cash Erin Gray

    i dont see anything wrong with this.  people who are too aggressive are usually the ones who throwing around the word passive like they are shrinks.  but our culture doesn’t favor the introvert. so it’s good to learn how to assume both roles.

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