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Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Not What You Say, It's How You Type It!

Experts say that 7 percent of human communication comes from words, while 38 percent is from a person's tone of the voice and a whopping 55 percent comes from his body language. I'm no math wiz, but those numbers tell me that when a passive aggressive person wants to mask his anger, sending an e-mail, text, or posting online can be the perfect way to do it! In a face-to-face or live telephone interaction, body language and tone of voice betray anger and hostility. When these interpersonal elements are absent, it is easy to mask a whole lot of hidden anger.

The Perfect Crime
  • Have you ever received an e-mail from a boss or co-worker that was completely professionally appropriate, yet simmering with hostility?
  • Has anyone ever Facebooked you with an embarrasing comment for all of your FB friends to read...couched in justifiable language ("What? It was only a joke! Don't be so sensitive")?
  • Did you ever send a text brief enough to deny that any real thought went into it but long enough to tell a person what you are really thinking about her?
  • How often have you held your breathe after dialing a phone number, hoping you'll get an answering machine that will allow you to leave the real message you would never leave in person?


When you receive a message that you KNOW was intended to insult you...and you know that the sender KNOWS he was intending to insult you, and he KNOWS THAT YOU KNOW...but you can't prove it just from his words...you've been the victim of the perfect passive aggressive crime!

Please share your stories of passive aggression in e-mails, texts, voice mails, online, etc here!

9 comments:

  1. Here's an example of a passive aggressive phone message, found while I was reading Randolph Pausch's The Last Lecture. Pausch writes:

    It's not a real vacation if you're reading e-mail or calling in for messages. When [my wife] and I went on our honeymoon, we wanted to be left alone. My boss, however, felt I needed to provide a way for people to contact me. So, I came up with the perfect phone message:

    "Hi, this is Randy. I waited until I was thirty-nine to get married, so my wife and I are going away for a month. I hope you don't have a problem with that, but my boss does. Apparently, I have to be reachable." I then gave the names of my [my wife's] parents and the city where they live. "If you call directory assistance, you can get their number. And then, if you can convince my new in-laws that your emergency merits interrupting their only daughter's honeymoon, they have our number."

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  2. This is a great story. We would agree that this example, most resembles a level two passive aggressive personality. Randy has intentionally made contacting him inefficient, to the point were, anyone listening to the message would not want to try contacting him. The fact that they have to go through his wife's parents, is a big inconvenience, and the message subtly discourages people from attempting to call him. They will in turn, accomplish the task without Randy's input or be forced to wait till he returns, which will slow things down and hinder efficiency.

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  3. Sally and Beth are best friends and they both have boyfriends. About a month ago the girls had a fight. Instead of calling or meeting to reconcile their differences, Beth and Sally began spreading rumors about one another. Unfortunately, Beth's rumor ended up costing Sally her relationship. Since the girls were roommates at school, Sally decided to change their answering machine message to the following:
    “Hello you have reached Beth and Sally, please leave a message, and we will get back to you ASAP. Unless this is Ben (Beth's boyfriend), in which case you should call Seth, Jason, Sean, Peter or Kyle’s phone’s . You would be better able to reach Beth at one of their rooms between the hours of 10am and 2am. Thank you and have a nice day.”

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  4. After reading your post, it reminded me of my friend who loves making snide comments. Any time I show her that I am offended; she is quick to insult me by saying that I am acting paranoid or presumptuous. Lately, we have been texting one another more frequently and I feel as if her passive aggressive behavior has become more evident. Last Thursday we had made plans to go out over the weekend, but unexpectedly I had to euthanize one of my pets. As a result, I was not in the mood to go out and party so I sent her a message asking her if we could reschedule due to my circumstance. She replied back stating “I figured you would” in the hopes of making me feel guilty for canceling our plans. Unfortunately, she was being selfish and failed to understand that I was not in the mood to go out because of the loss of my pet. Sadly, instead of being there for me in my time of sadness, she went days without talking to me because I canceled our plans. If the situation had been reversed, she would have expected me to be understanding and to comfort her during her time of loss. If I were to confront her and ask why she sent me that message she would have replied saying that I was reading too much into it.

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  5. This story was actually pretty entertaining and as a group we would have to concur w/ group 5 and their diagnosis of a level two passive aggressive action. Since Randy is unhappy about the situation his boss puts him in he purposely makes his response spiteful and almost inadequate to his boss' requests. Randy complies by giving the most roundabout of ways to get in contact w/ him during his honeymoon, but that was not enough. He also publicly thrashes his boss for the ridiculous request in the message he leaves--his passive aggressive reaction is on blast for everyone and their mother to hear.

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  6. Group 2, "like story"October 5, 2009 at 2:23 PM

    "Jane" and "John" are dating and Jane does not like the fact that John has been getting a little more than friendly with one of his classmates named "Lucy". Jane is aware, via facebook, that the two have been talking, and that the innocent flirting has escalated to the point where Jane feels very threatened by this budding relationship. Jane decides to post a facebook wall comment--on Johns wall--that says, "what did the doctor say about that rash? can we still play this weekend..?"

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  7. I think it's so much easier to tell someone how you really feel via internet/text. It's easier to lie, to tell the truth, to do pretty much anything, simply because the other person can't really deny it to a certain extent. I must also agree with Group 2 and 5 that this is pretty minor. However, I think Group 2's like story is a bit higher. It's definitely vengeful. I have to admit though, I don't see "Jane" in the wrong.
    A girl I knew found out her boyfriend was cheating via internet messages as well. He would tell girls he was single and looking, when in fact, he'd told her that they were in a committed relationship. He would give out his phone number, and during his work hours, would receive texts of a sexual/flirtatious nurture. My friend had been working her behind off for this man. She truly loved him, and had always tried to be understanding of his so called "innocent" behaviors, especially since he really felt he wasn't doing anything wrong. She was so sick and tired of it that she finally posted pictures of them together all over her profile, and subsequently all over his. He blocked her. When she called him out on it, he denied everything, even though they both knew she knew the truth. Finally, she decided to do a bit of re-con, and had a friend he did not know message him. He immediately replied with the standard "you're cute, I'm single, let's chat". She then put his picture and profile all over "cheatingboyfriends.com" or some such similar site, and then reported him to the website as a potential "violent predator" who "likes to spread herpes" and "has warts". He didn't stop cheating. So she left him.

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  8. Antoinette (group 6)October 14, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    This story was a perfect example of a level two Passive Aggressive Behavior: temporary compliance. I think it was very funny how his boss wanted him to be reachable so he made himself reachable through his in-laws. Anyone who listens to his answering machine will not want to get into contact with him because they will feel like a bad person. The only other thought I had was that it was a little too obvious and him deciding to blatantly pinpoint his boss in the message was a little risky.
    I have a similar story:
    I have a tendency to get into the house pretty late. I am always at the library or on the weekend with my friends. When I get home around one or two I am not really paying attention to how I parked my car. When my brother in-law was living with us this was a problem because I always parked right behind his car and a little too close. He used to get so angry because he would have to try to squeeze out of his spot. One morning I woke up to my phone saying I had a new voice message. It was a message from my brother in law saying “Good Morning Antoinette. I bumped into your car this morning with my car. Again you parked too close to mine so there was no other way for me to get out of my spot. Have a nice day.” I was so angry that he didn’t even try to wake me up to move my car. Yet, I guess he was fed up with having to take an extra ten minutes to get out of his parking spot. I never parked behind him again.

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  9. Argh!! This is my PA boyfriend to a T! He won't even give me the courtesy of voice inflection--it's text only, all the time. And forget body language. When we are physically together, there is no eye contact whatsoever, and so I am either talking to the back of his head, or trying to holler room to room across the house. When I try to stop him (he paces around like crazy), he always has some excuse about something important he needs to be doing instead and I should just keep talking as he goes about his business. I tried explaining the importance of eye contact & body language, and he told me he thought I was crazy & he'd never heard of something so stupid. Then he took a communications class & lo-&-behold, they taught the importance of eye contact/body language & he seemed genuinely shocked.

    When I do talk to him, I'm lucky if he retains even 10% of it--and that's a stretch. He responds back that he understands what I'm saying, but then acts as if he's never heard it in the future. Even written lists fail--he offers to go to the store, I write out a careful list, including brands, sizes, and even specific aisle locations at the grocery store, and he STILL comes home with wrong/missing items. For example, I needed just a pound of beef to make tacos for the 2 of us, but he came home with a 3-lb. pkg.--said he couldn't be bothered to "dig" in the meat case. The other 2 lbs. went to waste.

    He is the worst communicator EVER, and usually spends most of his time at home zoning out to TV, planted on the computer reading email & updating Facebook (I HATE Facebook!), or falling asleep at odd times, fully clothed, so that there is no time in the day to be together and have a conversation--about ANYTHING. He sleeps on the couch 80% of the time--I just throw a blanket on him & make sure he's taken his insulin so that he wakes up in the morning. And don't even get me started about the whole "withholding sex" thing (I know, another topic) . . . can count on my fingers the number of times in a year he makes a move. Talks a big game (let's go home & make love all night long), but never follows through. And of course when he does, it's awkward, unemotional, and mostly about him. Think it may finally be time to end this 4-year relationship . . . at least we're not married.

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