Hi guys! Here is my one-day-a-post again! 😀
Today I want to talk about how to deal with toxic passive aggressors. This post is divided into three parts:
- The 6 types of passive/active actions;
- Why passive aggression is toxic to active people; and
- 3 Strategies to deal with passive aggressors.
(A) The 6 types of passive/active actions.
I’d done this ad-hoc and unrefined matrix for you to illustrate my point:
Now, this matrix is context-dependent, meaning to say that a person X might be “active aggressive” under a certain context, and “lazy” under another context. Let me briefly explain the 6 types of actions:
The Active Group
- “Active Aggressive”–This group of people have clearly defined personal goals, and will plan and execute a series of actions to achieve them. They tend to have strong visions and are extremely focused on their goals.
- “Active”–This group of people may not have clearly defined personal goals, and they do not feel the urgency or the necessity to execute these goals. This can happen in a sheltered environment, where life is pretty good already. They feel that forcing themselves to be out of their comfort zones incurs a high personal cost. Any success is a great bonus, not expected. However, due to passion, they do execute stuffs. So they are “active”, but not “aggressive”.
- “Noise-making”— This group of people have no personal goals related to the situation at hand. They just want to make-noise to be entertained, to feel that they are very smart, because life is just very boring.
The Passive Group
- “Passive aggressive”–This group of people have clearly defined personal goals, but in a group context, they refuse to do anything that does not contribute towards their personal goals.
- “Passive”–This group of people are inactive, and may not have clearly defined personal goals. Here is the difference between “passive aggressive” and “passive”.
- “Lazy”–This group of people simply cannot be bothered. They don’t even respond to coaxing or being forced.
(B) Why passive aggression is toxic to active people
The simple answer is because passive aggressive people can only express their passive aggression when they are working in partnership with other active people.
So this passive aggressor will silently and passionately refuse to do certain things that are critical to the success of the project. Therefore, if the goals of the active group of people and the passive aggressor are not aligned, the entire group will get some sort of passive aggressive reaction in the opposite direction. They however, get no prior visible warnings. This negates the group effort on a constant basis, which is why passive aggressive behavior in this active group is toxic, because it might be too late by the time they realise that something is wrong.
Is it better to have two active aggressors in the group then, who don’t see eye-to-eye with each other? I do think it is, because these two active aggressors will openly and visibly talk things out. Members of the group can then be aware of potential problems since the signals are so visible, and decide how to navigate in the group work.
For personal relationships, having a passive aggressive partner is extremely unlucky, since they might even use emotional blackmail. If you are an “active” spouse who sincerely cares about your passive aggressive partner, you might find yourself in trouble, precisely because the strength of any emotional blackmail is the amount of love you have for your partner.
Emotional blackmail by passive aggressors includes statements like:
- “If you had loved me, you would have done more for us. I don’t care how much debt you are in. You never do anything for me. “
- “I know you don’t love me anymore but I just don’t want to get a divorce. Let’s suffer together since my life is screwed.”
- “Let’s just fail together. If I can’t get the group to agree with my idea, I will make sure your idea fail, too.”
See now why passive aggression is toxic to active, well-meaning people?
In the event when you have a community that -might be- made up of a majority of passive aggressive people, you will notice that their leaders get a lot of crap and blame.
But when you ask this community, “Since you are so smart and have so many good ideas, why don’t you do something–no matter how small– instead of complaining all day?”
They’d tell you– “Oh it’s not part of my job scope–that is the job scope of the leader”.
So, this culture of complaining, criticizing and negativity continues…and nothing ever happens from this group of passive aggressive people. The passive-aggressive culture is therefore toxic, because no change is ever possible. Not necessarily because leaders are lousy, but because complainers say or write things with zero call for action.
Passive aggressors, unsurprisingly, are cowards.
(C) Strategies for active people to deal with passive aggressors.
Here, I have three strategies for the “active” group of people to deal with passive aggressors:
- Once you have identified the passive aggressor, avoid this person like the plague. Don’t even entertain them. Passive aggressive people have serious issues with themselves–they like to blame the world, blame the others, blame the system–but curiously, after 10000 years, you find them still alive, still talking to you, and still in the particular community or society. This implies that they cannot survive elsewhere.
- In the event that you cannot avoid the passive aggressor in the group, you should do your best to ignore them. This is because they don’t contribute constructively. Also, even if you invite them to take the leadership position, they will reject, because they don’t want to put in the extra work, nor assume the leadership responsibilities. What else can you expect from cowards?
- Last but not least, if you can neither afford to avoid passive aggressors nor ignore them in your group, you should be prepared for the project to fail. And after this one-off project fails, you can then avoid these passive aggressors for future projects.
I find that it is useful to use passive aggression as a defense mechanism to deal with existing passive aggressors. This is simply so that you don’t let these leechers leech on all your hard work and effort. So, be passive aggressive too, let the project fail fast, and then quickly move on with your life without these cowards.
Don’t be stupid anymore to let passive aggressors leech on your efforts! Neither should you blame yourself–remember, it is the passive aggressor’s life that is screwed up, not yours. You should just avoid them as much as possible and carry on with your vision, backed by a team of confident, vibrant, enthusiastic active people.
Continue shining, achieving and continuing on your journey of making the world a better place!