Friday, 31 March 2006

Guest Slapper of the Month III

If you don’t know Mireille of C'est chic I pity you: she’s clever, funny and insightful. Go and read her blog! Hey, not yet! Read her Slap first!

It's interesting when you're given free rein in the best slapping venue available ... and you're in one of your relatively benign moods. But, don't worry, uncharacteristically mild mannered or not, I've still got one slap in me.

And it is an open-palmed tribute to all the passive-aggressors out there. Women, unfortunately, are exceptionally good at this, but I also know some men who have honed the skill to a fine art.

These are the individuals who don't have enough courage of their beliefs to be overtly frontal about what they think -- honestly, openly, in a manner that can be likewise addressed openly and honestly ... but who are willing to snipe and allude and imply and leave vicious anonymous comments.

These are the individuals who can be cloyingly sweet to one's face ... while advising their close circle of friends of the intimate details of everything they detest about your taste in [fill in the blank], what they have noticed about your abysmal absence of [fill in the blank] and how ill-behaved your [husband, partner, children, cat and/or dog] are.

I wonder how they justify this behavior. Often, I think, they are simply unaware of how truly cowardly and cruel it is. They may actually see it as politesse. You know, it's softer-edged to lay a public trail of breadcrumbs that hint about what you think another's insurmountable flaws/mistakes/gross errors of behavior are, than it is to gently, privately take the individual aside and share with them what is troubling you about your relationship with them.

Often this is because the passive-aggressor has no relationship with the individual who is the target of their snipe. In fact, it doesn't really matter to them who that person is, and how much harm/hurt/discomfort their passive aggression may cost that person. They just need to vent hostility and this is the safest way they know.

Now, of course you know I'm not talking about anyone in particular, don't you? Because that would be passive-aggressive, wouldn't it?


  1. Is honesty the best policy.

  2. Depends. Brings up that "should you be honest or should you be kind" question.

    But I think that neither true honesty nor true kindness have the hostility that underlies passive aggression. xoxo

  3. I second that slap! My mother is a champion passive aggressor. She's ripped people (including me) to shreds behind their backs, then actually had the nerve to defend herself by saying, "I never once said any of that to her face." As if that's redeeming! I'd rather have 10 friends who spit on me in person but say good things about me at my funeral than one who smiles sweetly then topples me verbally in my absence. (Okay, neither type is ideal, but you get my meaning.)

    Crikey, the baby's squalling, gotta go...

  4. Rock On, after my absence I'm making my rounds and I get Bela AND M!!! Luck fairies surround me.

    Slap Them hard, this is one of my pet peeves. I feel that if you can't be "honestly kind" then keep your mouth closed. If someone asks for brutal honesty - be honest kindly, show some tact, and then offer helpful suggestions or reasons why the criticism was given.

    Act civilized.

    I do not give time to vicious behavior of any type for any reason. And will tell people to please keep all of their negative "stuff" to themselves...but ever so nicely ;-)

    mwah mwah!!!

  5. WW ~ your beautiful baby has the perfect approach: direct, no mincing of words.

    SL ~ it is so good to see you!


  6. I know Mireille, somehow she blocked her comment section and it is impossible to tell her that I miss chatting with her.
    Lovely guest and we call her Zockso! becuase she signs all her comments with xoxo :)
    Happy April Fool´s Day, everybody!

  7. You know, I think the best part about this slap is that I've actually waited to comment 'til today, so I could roll it over in my mind and look at my own behaviour first. Not that I don't know some high practioners of passive-aggressive assholery, but just... I can't control them, but I can control myself. And what do I do that might be in the text of your post? It's a good thing I think when we first consider our own transgressions before moving on to those of others, and I'm glad you wrote this, because I got a good excuse to do just that.

  8. ~ Minka! Monika! The Icelandic Princess! I miss you all! I'm trying to write without benefit of an audience! It's hard! That's why I'm so grateful bela gave me this opportunity! *mwah* xoxo!

    ~ Katie ... you make the best point when you say, "It's a good thing when we first consider our own transgressions before moving on to those of others" ... because I think most of us are passive aggressors at one time or another. Because it is absolutely the "safest," most socially 'get-awayable with' means of demonstrating anger ... xoxo

  9. The kind of passive-aggressive behavior that I hate is when someone refuses to pull their own weight. Like if you're involved in a project at work, at church, at school, wherever, and one person moves at the speed of grass growing. SO then, others who have already done their share of the work have to start helping the passive-aggressive one.

    Another form of passive-aggestive behavior is a person who is always LATE. They arrive with a smile, and maybe an apology, but they CONTROL the scene with their behavior.

    The form you describe is just plain nasty. Smack!

  10. TLP, you're right. My two examples are any kind of group project, where everybody takes a step backward when the assignments are passed out, and a step forward when grades are given. Then there's my always late ex-brother-in-law who could not arrive on time at a family dinner to save his soul. Passive-aggression as fine art. xoxo

  11. I have trouble keeping a grip on what passive-aggressive behaviour actually is. Even with all the examples given, some of them seem to me just plain hyposcrisy, and others just inconsiderateness or selfishness.

    But I guess it's when you secretly want to be nasty, or have some buried hostility towards the other person/people, or think you are better than them, and yet you don't want to have them deal openly with the response to this, so you hide it under a veneer of niceness or sweetness, always giving yourself the opportunity of saying, 'But I never SAID that, I was just trying to be helpful/kind/apologise.' I had a boss I despised and in every meeting I sabotaged her chairmanship by never looking at her or engaging in the discussion, and when she called me on it I was able to say in outrage, 'But I was never rude to you in front of people - even when I disagreed with you, I kept my mouth shut!'

    I woould posit, though, that sometimes you resort to passive aggression because you fear the other's power or strength. I couldn't really confront my boss directly because she could have sacked me. I don't like to engage with people who are very articulate when angry. This means that tough, direct people will probably experience more passive aggression from others than meeker ones (M, does that explain your being beset by it?).

    Lateness is very rude, of course, and far too generally tolerated. I used to be late but I stopped when someone explained that it meant I considered my time more valuable than theirs and that that consituted a lack of respect and a show of self-importance. Yuk! Who wants to be self-important? But genuinely, what was happening was that I was just constantly over-optimistic about journey times. Now I aim to arrive early and am usually on time.

    Thanks, this really made me think...

  12. I'm tough and direct? *preen* ♥ lulu ♥ xoxo

  13. I don't have much to add to what's already been said. I think that it takes integrity and accountability to avoid behaving in a passive agressive manner. Sometimes its the easiest path in the short term and I can see why people who are either emotionally lazy or lacking in integrity will often slip down that path.


  14. And, I think with k-girl's comment, thus ends my tenure as Guest Slapper III. My thanks to bela!! xoxo mireille

  15. Et moi, alors, je compte pour du beurre?!" (No, I'm not translating that; you can guess what it means.)

    I don't think you can be passive-aggressive behind someone's back. That’s just being a hypocrite – not quite the same, I don’t think.

    I have been a passive-aggressor in the past, I’m sure we all have, but most of the time I’m just aggressive. LOL! That said, I believe I tactful and I expect tact from others too. Being ‘brutally honest’ is very often used as an excuse for being rude and cruel. I think SL's approach is the best.

    That chronic lateness thing drives me nuts. I realized long ago that it was about control and everything L said it was and I won't put up with it. I once broke up with someone because they were always late. One day I got a cold waiting for them somewhere draughty and that was it.

    There will probably be more comments between now and Wednesday (oh no, I have to think of something to write about!), but I’d like to thank M now for this thought-provoking Slap. Mwah!

  16. No, not butter. "And what am I? Chopped liver?" ♥ bela ♥ xoxo


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