Passive-aggressive behavior seems to be synonymous with being MN Nice. People SEEM so nice, because they always smile even when they’re seething inside, they don’t speak harshly to anyone and they avoid direct confrontation. But under this “nice” exterior, things aren’t all that nice. They mask their true feelings and motivations with over-the-top niceness while letting their true thoughts and feelings boil under the surface, sometimes seeping out slowly in sarcastic or manipulative ways, other times erupting in explosive and unhealthy fights when they can no longer keep it all in.
Here are a few examples of passive-aggressive behavior for those who are unsure what the term means:
A coworker who says “I love your perfume, where’d you get it from?” while secretly dying inside because your perfume is so strong she can’t breathe! She may eventually complain to another coworker about the overpowering fragrance, but will never directly tell you herself that she chokes a little every time you walk by.
The neighbor who refuses to ever knock on their neighbor’s door and politely ask them to turn down their music or stop practicing their guitar after “reasonable hours.” Every time they see their neighbor they smile at them, but behind that smile they detest them for making it so they don’t get any sleep. This person may call the landlord to complain or may even anonymously call the police instead of directly making their complaint known to their neighbor, who may be oblivious of his or her actions/level of noise being disturbing.
The girlfriend or boyfriend who swears that their significant other being friends with exes or other friends of the gender that their significant other is attracted to doesn’t bother them AT ALL because they are totally secure and not the jealous type. They are over-the-top nice to said people, claim that they adore them and can totally see why their S.O. is friends with them – but underneath they don’t trust the person at all and find any and every thing to be bothered or annoyed by that such ex/friend says or does. They of course don’t turn off the smile when around the ex/friend, but may complain to the S.O. about them or do things to sabotage the friendship between their S.O. and said friend or ex.
The boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or friend who always says they’re not mad, it’s ok, they’re fine. You’re not “fine.” It is ok to be mad. This is what leads to blow-up fights where a million unrelated things all come out at once. Learn to constructively talk about issues or annoyances when they occur rather than bottling them up inside and you are much less likely to have unhealthy fights or lingering feelings of resentment towards the person you care about.
A business associate who always seems so agreeable, saying yes to everything that is requested of them – but then rarely follows through. If you really don’t want to do something or do not have the ability to do something, then say so. Always saying yes but then not doing it, doing it late or doing a poor job at it is a clear sign of a passive-aggressive person.
At times I suppose my blog is a passive-aggressive outlet. Typically I tell people how I feel in relation to them; sometimes I’ve even been accused of being TOO honest. But, occasionally, I spill things in here a little more clearly and more concise than I am capable of in face-to-face situations. Someone may know that I love them, but in my poetry I might be more able to convey the hurts of our relationship. Someone may know that I am annoyed with overly religious sentiments constantly on Facebook – but I can articulate exactly WHY it annoys me much better in the written word.
Overall, however, we need to get over this MN Nice thing! If it’s the first time I have ever met you but you are being a drunken fool, acting outrageously, and ruining mine and my friends’ night – I’m going to tell you, “Shut the hell up, you’re being a big jerk and ruining everyone’s night!” If that’s mean or confrontational, so be it (this actually happened and the guy asked me out on a date later – so I guess not everyone is turned off by my straight forwardness). If you don’t REALLY like somebody, don’t act like they are the most amazing person you’ve ever met! Sure, we can’t always tell someone EXACTLY how little we think of them because of work or personal reasons, but we don’t have to fake it and be overly nice either. It’s good to know where you stand with people. It’s good to not waste time and energy on people that you don’t actually like just because you don’t want to be mean and admit, hey – I don’t really like that person, they’re not someone I would ever choose to hang out with. And lastly – it is GREAT to say no, to only make commitments we really want to make and intend to honor.