Dealing w/ P-As #1
SITE: Anger & Stress management audio C.Disks, Inner Child tapes….
FOR US — the Receivers (R) of passive-aggressive (P-A) words & non-actions, in our personal life or at work
The obvious first step is to learn about Passive-Aggressive patterns of communication & behavior. Interaction with one’s own P-A child, spouse, parent or friend will need to be a bit different than what we can do when dealing with someone at work. But the fundamentals are the same.
T.E.A: Before we can take action (As) in dealing with a P-A, we need to be as prepared as possible. That starts with our ability to manage ourselves, both in our thinking (Ts) & our emotions (Es). As the previous posts outline, here we’re mainly looking at dyed-in-the-wool P-As – rather than occasional P-A behavior we all use when direct expression of displeasure & anger are not wise (work) or safe (home).
Identify P-A for what it is: HOSTILITY
Remember – if you have to ask a person to do something (legitimate) more than twice, you’re dealing with passive-aggressiveness. You’re getting the indirect message:”No I won’t, & you can’t make me!” Review P-A characteristics.
Don’t be fooled by the innocuous, sugar-coated presentation of an experienced P-A. Once you recognize it’s a sign of hostility, it can give you the courage & confidence to stand up to it. The biggest mistake ‘receivers’ make is to be lenient. It’s a power struggle, so once you give in to P-A behavior, you lose your personal power & your options.
IMPERATIVE: Vulnerability in any area of your life is an invitation for the P-A to harm you where it hurts the most – as you’ve probably already experienced. So – eliminate them as a source of psychological or financial support as soon as you can, & exclude any you become aware of in future before getting tangled up.
When you don’t have a choice (at least for the present)
a. If it’s someone at school, work, neighborhood, church, or other group – give them as little info about you & your life as you can – right from the beginning, & that includes good things! which they can easily envy (tell no great successes, feelings, problems, deep beliefs, family issues, personal weaknesses….).
P-As like to ask all kinds of personal questions, which seem innocent & concerned, like they’re really interested in you. But they’re very good at remembering what they hear, even little things you mention in passing, & will find ways to use it against you later. SO – if you can’t avoid answering, keep it brief & vague, said friendly or straight-faced
b. When it’s people who know you well, it’s much harder to detach. Changing your part in the Perpetrator-Victim ‘game’ has to be done slowly & carefully. You will likely feel a measure of fear, but if you keep going, you’ll find it’s empowering.
It’s best to do it piece-meal – tell them less & less about things that matter to you AND/OR things they have turned against you before – a little at a time until you’re out of the toxic symbiosis
Don’t take the bait
There’s a difference between actively dealing with P-A comments & behavior (via our Adult) vs. getting sucked into the emotional chaos they can create (by our WIC). For exp, when a P-A is sarcastic, only respond to the words, not the tone.
It’s imperative to stop yourself from doing their psych work for them by asking Qs like “Why did you say that? or What does that really mean?”
These might get you a shrug & an “I don’t know”, or start an argument – but not the truth. It’s a way of enabling them to not be responsible for their feelings.
So if they were to say”Thanks a lot!”, you can just respond with “You’re welcome” – either with a smile, or in a neutral voice, which can make their brain go ‘TILT’.
Don’t take it personally
P-As revel in painting their world – & yours – with negativity, with a misery-loves-company attitude – & they’ll bond with you in their misery – if you let them. You’re either just the most convenient person to dump their resentments on, or you’ve chosen to be with them because of your own corresponding damage.
As stated in other posts – the P-A’s anger comes from their own upbringing – & later from living with too much injustice & powerlessness – so it can not possibly be your responsibility. You do NOT have the power to fix their pain, only they can do that. What you do have power over is protecting your own hide, & cultivating your sources of serenity & enjoyment.
NEXT: Dealing with P-As #3