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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Covert Anger And The Inner Girl

We are all a result of our experiences.  Some choose to overcome difficulties by facing them head on.  Some choose to swim in them until their hands are pruney.  Some ignore them and party on like they're not even there.  What happens when the difficulties that you face include passive-aggressive behavior?

When I was a child, I recall an incident where a little boy stole my rainbow pencil.  It was very upsetting at the time, especially when he refused to give it back.  Rather than tattling or whining about it, I punched him in the nose.  He bled and ran home to his mother, who later called my mother to complain.  

Here are two good examples of ways to deal with a problem.  One was direct and aggressive and usually inappropriate.  Nobody should ever clock someone out of anger or frustration.  The other was direct confrontation through verbal communication.  Seems simple enough right?

The passive aggressive person is an angry person, but they don't seem to be able to confront the stressor directly.  An example is the lady who's at the checkout line who has her husband's TV remote in her purse because he refused to go shopping with her.  She hopes he gets the message, but it certainly wasn't sent directly.

While watching an episode of 'Orange Is The New Black,' it occurred to me that women are exceptional at playing these mind games.  Women are generally more likely to be the passive-aggressive type, so keep your wits about you when dealing with the XX Chromosomes.  A study was done recently that suggested women are more passive-aggressive because they want to avoid physical harm.  I bet that kid I punched would have appreciated some more covert anger.

Human beings typically don't have the ability to read minds.  Shocking, I know!  So when dealing with someone who is passive-aggressive, it is very strongly recommended that you utilize 4 strategies to get out alive!  

#1  Look for the warning signs.  Some psychologists call it "sugar-coated" hostility.  Here are some examples: intentional procrastination, the silent-treatment, sulking & withdrawal, and gossiping.

#2  Once you're aware of what you're dealing with you can choose to just simply not engage.  This is the place where you choose not to be manipulated.  You get to be the adult and manage your own emotional response.  Being "the bigger guy" without muscle is usually the way to go.

#3  Point out the anger directly.  Say something like, "It seems that you're angry with me."  This forces the passive-aggressive person to acknowledge the anger that they've been hiding.  

#4  Expect that they will deny having the anger.  Accept that they won't acknowledge its existence. 

Being assertive is a skill that most of us have trouble mastering.  We're taught kindness, but do we really know what to do when something pisses us off?  There are resources everywhere on how to be effectively assertive.  I strongly suggest that we all freshen our skills and that we all teach our children a more effective way to handle their anger too.  

<Thanks to for the great advice and unlimited material to read.

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