People are weird. Really, I just don’t get them. They make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. At all. Zilch. Nada. (Okay, you get it : People are weird-beard and I don’t get ’em.)
And I’m not even talking about the big stuff, the really messed-up stuff that I can’t even bring myself to think about because it’s awful, depressing and terrible.
No, I’m just talking about the little, everyday, annoying things that we do to each other that completely blow my mind: like passive aggressive behavior. What is the deal with the passive aggressive behavior, everybody?
Let’s just cut it out, all of us. Just, as a people, let’s universally agree that this junk needs to be stopped because it’s crazy irritating. It’s so much more irritating and complicated than regular, old, garden-variety, straight-up aggressive behavior. That I get. That I can wrap my mind around. That’s way easier to understand.
For example, if someone is being an overly-aggressive jerk to you, you can just think “Wow, this guy is being a real, Grade A jerkface. However, he’s made it plainly clear through his tactless, unprofessional yelling that he hates it when I use the last of the communal printer paper and don’t refill it. Note to self: don’t use the last of the communal printer paper without replacing it.”
See, you learned something from his unprofessional, tactless yelling: you need to refill the communal printer paper if you use the last of it. (You really should have been doing that anyway, though. It’s totally rude not to.)
Would it have been easier if Screaming Printer Paper Guy would have just calmly asked you to please refill the printer paper if you use the last of it? Sure, obviously. Duh. That would have been the normal person thing to do. But I still argue that the yelling (though totally not nice) is better and infinitely more effective than the passive aggressive route.
The passive aggressive route would have likely involved a lot of loud, over-exaggerated sighing while Printer Paper Guy refilled the paper himself and then later that same day an anonymous, sanctimonious, laminated note would have appeared on the printer. It would have said something like this: “All of us are responsible for refilling the printer paper if we use the last of it!! It is our duty as employees of this office.”
Everybody would totally know who wrote the note because it’s always the same guy who writes these notes. He’s the loud-sigher who uses overly-pretentious speech and too many exclamation marks. He’s also really into laminating things.
Passive aggressive people love laminating things. It’s a fact. I think it’s because they want to keep their messages preserved for posterity. They could easily do this without the lamination by simply telling people what they think and having those people remember and learn from it.
But hey, that’s crazy talk: that would require them to actually talk about what’s bugging them. Out loud. To the people who are bugging them. For some reason, they don’t want to do this.
I’ve never really had a problem with this myself. This is probably because I never shut up about what’s bugging me. If something bugs me, I usually just complain about it immediately.
If you are doing something that annoys me, I will endure it for oh, um, approximately five seconds, before I snap and say something like “Seriously, dude. Stop. You’re driving me nuts with (insert the annoying thing you’re doing here.)”
Then you either a.) stop doing that annoying thing because you are a nice, decent person, or b.) you continue doing it because odds are, you’re my friend or loved one and for some sick, twisted reason, it gives you pleasure to annoy the bejesus out of me. (Note to self: Get better loved ones. Just kidding…you guys are the bestest.)
Anyhoo, either way, the balls in your court. I’ve said my piece and if you want to continue annoying me that’s on you. The point is, I clearly stated what I don’t like so you are now open to modify your behavior accordingly. If you continue being a jerk, I can be mad at you. But had I not voiced my irritation, I have no right to be annoyed. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
I believe in this very firmly, because I believe everything I believe very firmly. (This is likely because I’m a vain, idealistic, bigmouth.)
But whatever the reason, I believe this very strongly: if you don’t say anything to the person annoying you, you don’t get to be annoyed. How are they supposed to know they are aggravating you if you don’t tell them? They’re probably just happily cruising through life doing things like stealing all the communal printer paper and not realizing they’re being a jerk. And since they don’t realize it, they’ll never stop doing it. You didn’t tell them so they have no idea how they’re affecting people.
So, you, as the affected person, have two options: tell them calmly and nicely that what they’re doing is irritating the bejesus out of you or don’t say anything and just silently accept their behavior.
Note that I said silently accept their behavior there, not silently stew angrily about their behavior for years. You say something or you accept it. Those are your two options. You don’t get to smugly hold grudges, however much passive aggressive people love silently, smugly holding grudges.
You either talk through the situation rationally and respectfully until you work to a mutually beneficial situation or you suck it up and shut up. Those are your two grownup choices.
I don’t know this because I’m necessarily a grownup myself. (Sometimes I can be a real, passive-aggressive toadface. I’m working on it though. I swear.) I’m saying this because I’ve been watching a lot of Golden Girls lately and it sounds like some sage advice Sophia Petrillo might give over a shared cheesecake. Though, admittedly it is without her signature, folksy, old world charm,
Since it sounds like something Sophia might say though, it has to be right. Sophia is always right and, also, always adorable.
Sophia is also never passively aggressive. Passive is just not in her repertoire. She either tells you what she’s thinking through a wistful, well-told story set in Sicily in the 1920’s or she hits you with her purse. Either way, you get the picture.
I’m gonna need a bigger purse.