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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Revenge! Counter-Passive Aggression in Families, Schools and the Workplace

Welcome to Passive Aggressive Diaires, especially to those readers who have linked here from Psychology Today! Please browse through the examples of passive aggressive behavior that have been shared throughout this blog and add your own interesting, humorous, conniving, and infuriating examples of passive aggressive...and counter-passive aggressive behavior here.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

If you haven't been there already, please check out for my latest post on the Psychology Today website.


  1. Dear Passive Aggressive Diaries,

    I am very happy to have finally found you! And I will enjoy catching up on posting several experiences of passive aggressiveness I have experienced from my dear husband's older children.

    I have always known the oldest daughter is a wicked little stepchild who loves to appear as though she is "nice" and "polite" and that I am the one who is "overreacting" and "hormonal" or "overly sensitive" to her backhanded compliments and gifts.

    I am finding a lot of validation in reading "The Angry Smile" that explores and presents passive aggressiveness in a complimentary, yet different format presented in "Overcoming Passive Aggression", and "Living with the Passive Aggressive Man".

    A few of her "gifts" have been:

    * Commenting: "That outfit you are wearing is sooo slimming."

    * Sharing with me a picture she thought was so humorous, which was a picture of "Uncle Sam":

    * Commenting to me how much she adores and loves "Cruella deVille".

    * Giving me parenting advice, although she is divorced, and childless.

    * She always tried to play "peace maker" when her father and I had issues; and has indirectly and directly suggested on numerous occasions to me (but not her father), that perhaps we should divorce - and that she is trying to "help" and "wants the best for me."

    * I am from the South, and she loves to share with me the "You might be a redneck if . . " jokes by Jeff Foxworthy

    * Constant suggestions for "helping" me with my personal image/looks; i.e., cosmetics, teeth whitening (and she even bought us a "Sonicare") and given us (me) "whitening" strips to "try"; recently giving me a brand of shampoo/conditioner that I like, but for "colored" hair (when she already knows based on past conversations and her failed attempts to convince me of what she believes is most "appropriate" for me after which she was kind enough to share an Oprah episode with me on the topic of "How to make Your Gray Hair Goregous":

    * She noticed the title of a book by Dr. Mel Levine, MD, "The Myth of Laziness" that I had purchased to help me with her younger sister who is chronologically 25 with an 8 year old mentality due to a form of schizophrenia; and she asked me "Did YOU read it?" with a certain lilt to her voice, with an unmistakable mischievous smile implying that I am lazy, and she leaves the room.

    * Commenting how her previous step-mother's house is a pig-stye; and that mine is "better", just cluttered, not as nasty as hers.

    * She was showing me that she was getting a "wrinkle" and how she will fight aging every step of the way - and yet I realized that she was indirectly telling me that I am getting "old."

    * Making fashion suggestions for me when her father and I were scheduled to visit her at work for an award ceremony.

    * Stating a time she would be visiting and always being late with some plausible reason.

    * Deliberately hanging up while speaking on the phone with me, and claiming "there was a tunnel and the reception was bad", or "my battery died.", etc.

  2. Dear Passive Aggressive Diaries,

    My dear husband has a habit of "not answering" me when I ask him a direct question. And I have reminded him that it sets a very bad example for our children and that they will model this inappropriate behavior not only with their teachers, but later with us.

    We made an agreement that after his meals (that are at different times than the rest of the family due to his schedule), he would wash his dishes and put them in the dishwasher (to dry). However, he is always "is too busy" and "preparing for work" (sleeping) and will either leave the dirty dishes in the sink or on the table.

    I had read the two following books related to behavioral psychology by Dr. Aubrey Danials for learning how to encourage more acceptable behavior from one of my husband's older adult children who is mentally/emotionally a child; and decided to apply the concepts to "bring out out his best".

    After realizing that it is a pattern of behavior with him, I eventually let the dishes pile up until he could not stand the "science project" in our sink anymore and he would eventually wash them.

    After reading through Chapter 7 of "The Angry Smile", as well as few of the ending chapters, I better understand the perceived payoff of him verbally making an agreement and then slowly and systematically giving excuses as to why he cannot maintain the agreement he made. This is also a pattern that some of his business colleagues have become frustrated with.

    This morning after breakfast, I asked/reminded him to please put his dishes away. A little while later, I asked him where were the dishes, and he refused to answer. I asked twice (because he was in separate room) and on the third time, I saw he was trying to make his escape by walking away, and I caught him by surprise. I asked him, "Why are you not answering me when I know you can hear me?" (because he answered a separate question related to the children, but would not answer my question about the dishes) to which he replied, "The dishes are somewhere." He continues walking away and I follow him, repeatedly and calmly questioning "where" are the dishes, as he was sarcastically smiling and laughing; he said "either in the sink or in the dishwasher". I kept asking him which one, and why is he unable to answer a direct question with a direct answer; to which he finally relented and said the dishes were in the sink. I then calmly asked him, "Do you believe that I do not deserve enough respect to be answered directly the first time? Actually, I deserve MORE respect than this.", to which his facial expression dramatically changed from having fun to mild shame (I have been also studying nonverbal communication, body language, and facial expressions because some cultures have a "poker face" and are hard to read), and I walked away. On my way out of the room, I smiled and was proud for not allowing myself to get angry and dragged into a fight.

    I also realize that my husband's oldest daughter has learned very well from him, and loves to give back handed compliments to me while we are alone. When I share this with my husband, he always defends her.

    I am fortunate to be learning the techniques from "The Angry Smile" and I find it quite liberating that I am now able to take the "fun" out of it for them both, while hopefully teaching my young children a more assertive method of communication.

  3. my husband is passive aggressive to the 10th power, never accepts responsibilty, never admits he is wrong it is all my fault for treating me the way he does. we have been separated for 2 months because i asked him to leave the house after i grew tired of is bull.... since he has been very angry and giving me the silent treatment. one day i decided to give him lunch at work because i wanted us to talk things out and improve and safe our marriage, he became upset and yelling over me bringing him lunch. i only did it because his car broke down and i knew he didn't have a way to get food why would he become so angry with me for caring