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Archive for the ‘Passive Aggressive Behavior’ Category

I asked a friend who is an architect how business was going. He said it was fine except that he had a cash-flow problem because people weren’t paying him fast enough. Then he smiled boyishly and said, “of course, I don’t bill them right away either.”

“How long do you wait until you bill them?” I asked.
Now he laughed sheepishly and said, “oh, about three months after I’ve completed the work.”

“You do your clients no favors.” I said. “People who don’t get billed for three months have already forgotten about that debt because they are on to making new ones. And then when your bill comes, they have to stop and figure out how to make a payment to you.”

“So why do you think I procrastinate?” my friend asked.

“Maybe you have a problem with charging people for services,” I said, “and you don’t think you’re worthy of the money. You’d be surprised how many professionals grapple with this issue.”

“That’s interesting,” he replied. “Have you any other ideas as to why I procrastinate?”

“Maybe you like the stimulation that comes from living on the brink of financial trouble. Or you are testing people to see if they will call and ask about the bill.”

“Why else do you think I procrastinate?” urged my friend.

Not able to resist, I went on, for I like to play, “I’m only trying to help you.”

“Maybe you had a parent that procrastinated and modeled for you that way of behaving. You just never learned how to be a self-starter. Or you procrastinate because that’s the way you learned to express your anger. Procrastination is passive-aggressive behavior, you know.”

“But what do you think is the real, underlying reason for my procrastination?” my friend queried.
“Maybe you’re not supposed to be more successful than your father, so you procrastinate to keep yourself less successful. Or you’re afraid to fail, so you don’t complete a project.”

“Why else?” he demanded.
“Could it be,” I mused, “that always asking ‘why’ is in itself a form of procrastination?”

“Let’s change the subject,” laughed my good-natured friend.

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Are you the passive agressive one in your relationship? Take the test below to find out!

The Passive Aggressive’s main focus in life is himself or herself. For convenience, I’ll use “he.” However, there are also many women who are Passive Aggressive. The Passive Aggressive does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He’s often late, he procrastinates, he tells you he will do something and then he doesn’t. He could get the job done faster and better, but he doesn’t.

Often a person will ask me, “How can someone be passive and aggressive at the same time?” Here’s an example.

Suppose I tell you I’ll meet you at 11:00, and I don’t show up until 11:30 because I decided to watch the end of the ball game. In addition, I don’t even bother to call, nor do I apologize when I see you. My behavior is angry. It discounts you. I’m not jumping up and down having a temper tantrum, but my behavior is certainly aggressive toward you. However, I am expressing the aggression passively. That’s why it’s called passive aggressive behavior.

In addition to being passively aggressive, many Passive Aggressives have very nasty tempers. Remember: it’s standard operating procedure for Passive Aggressives to do as they please. So if you confront them about their behavior, they often turn the confrontation around, and confront you on your behavior. Except their confrontation is usually more angry. As a result, it is you who backs down. And once again, they get their way. What is confusing at first about this personality type is that Passive Aggressives are often very caring and sensitive people. In fact, many of them will go out of their way to do nice things for you. The catch is, they take care of you when it’s convenient for them, and in their own way.

For example, Passive Aggressive buys you a beautiful wool sweater for your birthday. You’re allergic to wool. Or Passive Aggressive knows that you hate cats. He brings one home for the kids. Perhaps the best description of a Passive Aggressive is that he does what he damn well pleases. Take the following test, check off each item that applies to you or your mate.

You do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it. You set your own standards of behavior as opposed to following the standards of others.

You resist expectations of others by dawdling and forgetting. You hate it when others set deadlines for you, and often you do not meet them.

You get angry when crossed. You have a nasty temper and frequently use it to try to make your point, intimidate, and get your own way.

You think others have no right to tell you what to do, and often when you are told what to do, you respond in a defensive and hostile manner.

You rarely find yourself in a position where you think you have made a mistake and you need to apologize.

You often do not do what you have promised, and your mate is always on you about what you haven’t done.

You are unsure of yourself, and internally you feel powerless, and dependent and lack self-confidence.

You defend your behavior with such excuses as “I forgot,” “It never occurred to me,” or “I’m sorry you think that of me.” You feel innocent when you offer these excuses, and when you apologize it is usually a maneuver to get your mate off your case. Your apologies do not contain a promise to change.

You don’t think about how your behavior affects others. You simply do not take others’ wants and feelings into account if you want to do something.

You see yourself as basically a nice person and can’t understand why others often feel irritated and angry with you.
If you have checked off 8 or more items, you are definitely a Passive Aggressive. If you have checked off 5, 6, or 7 items, you sometimes have passive aggressive behavior, but you are not a passive aggressive personality.

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Pouting closes off communication channels between parent and child.

Dear Pouting Parent,

Did you know that pouting closes off communication?

Pouting says I refuse to be close.

Pouting is a form of anger.

Parent, you can’t fix the problem when you pout.

It’s okay to be quiet and back off from your child when you’re ready to chew a nail because of his or her behavior. At the same time, answer your child when she tries to talk to you. If she tries to make small talk, understand that it is her way of saying, “Let’s be friends” and her attempt to get back in your good graces.

At some point, discuss her infraction and what you would like to have happen differently in the future. For example, you might say, “I’m very disappointed in the way you acted when your friends were over. As an apology and a gesture of good will, I’d like you to take out the trash and shred that stack of papers in my office. Once you do these chores, I’ll put away my bad feelings, and we can be friends again.”

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Trivial Pursuit isn’t the only game couples play.
Lisa, walking into the bedroom, says “Jeff, did you know the light bulb is burned out in the bathroom?” Jeff raises his eyebrows and says, “Oh?” Inside his head, Jeff says, “There’s no way I’m going to replace that light bulb. If she wants me to replace it, she’s going to have to ask.”

Two days later Lisa says to Jeff, “I can’t even see to put on my makeup in the bathroom.” Jeff gives Lisa the old “um-hmmm” response and reaffirms to himself that he’s not going to replace the light bulb until she asks.

Another week goes by and Jeff notices that Lisa is straining to see herself in the mirror with the light that’s coming from the hall. At that moment he feels some compassion for Lisa, and later that day, when she is nowhere around, he replaces the light bulb.

The saga continues when Jeff, decides not to tell Lisa that he replaced the light bulb and Lisa continues to put her makeup on using the light from the hall.

A few days later, Lisa walks briskly into the kitchen and yells indignantly, “When are you going to replace that light bulb?” Jeff looks up from his newspaper, leans back in his chair and says, “Why, I replaced it last week. Didn’t you know?”

Lisa caught off guard, feels confused and indignant. Jeff, on the other hand, feels triumphant.

Lisa takes a deep breath and is ready to fight. Jeff becomes defensive, and for the next 10 minutes they engage in a heated exchange of words followed by another half-hour rehashing who did what when.

Usually in situations like this, a couple will repeat the scenario. The topic will be different, but the scene will play the same way. The reason is because deep down the partners are afraid of closeness. However, because they are human, and each of them has a need to be close and emotionally recognized by the other, they quarrel. Their quarreling allows them to engage each other emotionally, while at the same time avoid closeness.

If this scenario sounds too close to home, examine your motives when arguing, and vow to make some changes in your relationship.

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Most people think they’re nice guys, but many are not.
A friend said he had volunteered to direct traffic for a religious function, and he was appalled at the behavior of the people driving into the parking lot.

“Mind you,” he said, “I was just a pawn doing what I was told to do by the people in charge of the traffic committee. My job was to hold up a sign that told people that the lot was full and they had to park farther away and take a shuttle bus.”

“One driver stopped and said, ‘I’m only going to be here for a few minutes.’ This was his excuse to be able to park in the nearer lot.

“Another said, ‘I have a fourth-grader.’ A lot of people had their children. Somehow having a fourth-grader was supposed to get the woman in the closer lot.

“One particularly nasty guy said, ‘Isn’t there room for just one small car?’ He was driving a sports car. I felt like saying, ‘Maybe for the car, but not your big mouth.'”

“And I couldn’t believe the people who wanted to park in the handicapped spaces and volunteer spaces. It was amazing how obnoxious some of them were.”

“When 7 or 8 cars would leave the closer lot, I was told to go ahead and let people park in the lot. I was really in hot water then. If someone who had parked in the far lot saw that people were being admitted into the closer lot, they walked up to me and demanded to know why they had to park in the far lot, like I had individually picked them out to persecute them. I kept thinking, ‘Who do these people think they are?'”

* * *

I recall a similar experience from my own parking attendant days when my daughter was in grade school. I was overseeing the high-schoolers who were directing the parking. A number of parents were determined to park in the fire lanes and bulldoze their way into a certain lot. I continually was telling the parents that these students were following instructions. It was a nightmare.

Several weeks ago I had this same experience in the doctor’s office. I had taken an aging relative for a second medical opinion. When the doctor walked in, he started telling the relative what she had and how she should treat it. Then he patted her on the knee and told her of course she didn’t have cancer.

She kept trying to interrupt to tell him why she had come, and he kept talking over her. He did not want to hear her symptoms, and he was not going to listen. I finally stepped in and asked if he had seen the woman’s medical record or had talked with her doctor. He said no one had sent him anything. Then I explained why we were there and why we wanted a second opinion. He somewhat backed down after I pushed him to listen to her symptoms, but his arrogance was noted throughout the entire visit. Despite his reputation, he ruined it by not being responsive to his patient.

If asked the question, “Who do you think you are?” what would your answer be? If it’s, “I’m a nice person,” I suggest you act that way in all circumstances.

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How to Handle an Abusive Spouse

They were getting ready to go to a party. She was all dressed. He demanded that she change her dress. “He didn’t like the way it looked,” she said. They got into a huge argument. Finally she backed down and changed her dress.

The other evening a friend called to talk. Within five minutes he was telling her it was time to get off the telephone. He thinks she should talk to her friends and her mother during the day.

He continually points out how much money he makes in comparison to how much she makes, as if their individual worth as a human being were determined by their paycheck. At one time she did have a better paying job, but he demanded that she quit because she had to travel and he didn’t like that.

If they’re at a party and he wants to leave, they leave. The other evening they were with friends and she started to feel sick. She wanted to go home. He refused.

Why does she stay in the marriage? She says she loves him. They have fun. She wants to have a baby. She’s hoping he’ll grow up.

—————

Rose is also married to a bully. She’s been married to him for 44 years. All their children are out of the nest.

“He complains about everything,” she says. “We’re driving down the street and I’m looking at the beautiful trees. He points out that the neighbors haven’t put away their trash cans. I say, ‘Look at nature. Don’t look at the trash cans.’ He says I have my head in the sand.

“He expects to be waited on. When’s lunch, when’s dinner? And then he never makes a suggestion for what I should fix.

“When I ask him to help, like take out the trash, he says okay. But when two days go by and the trash starts to smell I take it out. He then tells me I have no patience, and asks why everything has to be done on my schedule.

“If I get irritated with him about anything, he puts me down, tells me I’m stupid, and then refuses to talk for a few days.

“Last week there were no towels in the bathroom. I had taken them to the washer. Instead of getting himself a towel, he fussed, ‘There are no towels in here. Get me some towels.’ Our linen closet has not moved in 20 years.

“If I want a new lamp or carpeting, I have to fight for it. When I tell him I’m going shopping with a friend, he tells me I have enough clothes. We live carefully and I do not overspend.”

“He puts me down in front of our children. The children have said they don’t want to come visit if we are going to argue. So I say nothing when he makes rude remarks. Sometimes I wonder why the children don’t say anything to him.”

Why does she stay married? She wants a companion. She wants to be a couple. She’s fearful of being poor.

I suggested to both of these women that they detach. They need to pull back emotionally and stop arguing and trying to get their points across. Detaching is a little like watching a scene in a movie and having no feelings.

When the first woman’s husband wants her to change her dress, she should say nicely, “This is the dress I’ve chosen to wear. Next time I’ll wear something different.” When her mother or a friend calls in the evening, she should take the call if she and her husband are not having dinner or doing something together. She should be respectful of their time together as a couple but also respectful of herself. When her husband talks about how much money he makes, she can say calmly, “It’s nice that you bring in a good paycheck.”

The second woman’s goal should be: Not to respond to her husband’s inappropriate comments. Nor should she roll her eyes or show by her body language that he’s gotten to her.

If he complains about the neighbors’ trash cans, she should say nothing. If he complains about her wanting to put in new carpeting and they can afford it, she should get new carpeting and stop the ugly discussions.

Because he resists seeing the house as half his responsibility, she can make a list of what she will do and not do anything else. This may mean that the basement, garage, and closets never get touched. Or she should decide to hire a cleaning service periodically. Another choice would be to do all the tasks and take pleasure in a job well done.

Men who are bullies are not nice people. What I regret about women who live with bullies is that they often become not nice people themselves in response to their mate’s bad behaviors.

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When people don’t do what they say they will do, and manifest many passive aggressive behaviors, when do you stop being patient and take action.

Our new wood floor in our living room is popping up along the baseboard. We’re not sure what’s causing the problem. In fact, no one seems to be sure. About eight months ago I called a company to come and give us an estimate to fix the floor.

When the appointment time came, no one arrived. About a half hour later I got a call and the gentleman explained that one of his grandchildren had taken sick, so he couldn’t make the appointment. I said fine, and we set another time.

The next appointment, the fellow was about a half hour late. He looked at the floor, said he could fix it, gave me a bid right there and then, and said he would drop off color samples on Thursday as the floor was also going to be restained. Before he left he asked if he could take some of the wood pieces that had popped up in order to determine why they were buckling.

I hesitated, but then agreed when the fellow reassured me he would be dropping everything off on Thursday — three days from now.

That was eight months ago. The guy never came with the samples and never returned my wood flooring. After numerous telephone calls where he promised to drop the wood off, I finally asked to speak with the president of the company. Imagine my surprise to find that the man I was dealing with was the owner of the company.

About four months into my struggle to get my wood back, the man’s assistant admitted that he had lost the pieces somewhere in his van. I said, “Okay, just make me some new pieces.”

Then one day, one of the saleswomen for the company arrived at our door and wanted another two pieces to determine the right color. She took the two pieces with a promise that all the wood would be back that very week. Thanksgiving passed. Christmas passed. Twelve weeks later I was still making what I considered polite calls requesting my wood planking.

Two weeks ago I woke up on the wrong side. I got out of bed, poured myself coffee, and called the company. I told the person on the other end of the line (poor lady) that I did not have a beef with her, but I wanted my flooring pronto, now, immediately, today. And if I did not get it, I was going to report their bloody company to the better business bureau. In the meantime, I was going to e-mail every developer and builder in the area making known the hassle I was having with this particular floor company.

At ten twenty that morning I got a call telling me I could pick up my samples.

I’ve lived long enough to know that mistakes happen and not everything goes as planned. To get all bent out of shape over every issue is a waste of energy. But sometimes you have to draw the line and move to the position that enough is enough.

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