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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Intentional Inefficiency at Chore Time

So, we have this repetitive conversation at our house that goes something like this:

Children:  Can we get a dog?  We really want a pug.

Parents:  We can get a dog when you girls show us that you are ready to take care of one.  First, you have to show us that you can feed the kitties everyday withour needing 100 reminders.

Children:  But Moooooooooooom!  But Daaaaaaaaaaaad!  We doooooooooooo.

Parents: (Laugh.  Exchange knowing glances.)

Last night, my husband was on his 95th reminder to our older daughter to feed the kittens.  Following her 75th, "I'll do it in a minute" (she simply pretended not to hear the first 20 requests, as she kept her eyes glued to her lady Gaga video on the computer screen), she all of a sudden got indignant:

"Fine.  I'll do it right away.  I don't know why you have to be so impatient about it, Dad!"

She runs to the kitty dishes.  We hear the pouring of the food.  A lot of pouring, in fact.  She runs back to the computer with an angry smile on her face and resumes her dry-eyed screen stare.

My husband and I check out the kitty bowls.  Oh, she fed them alright.  The food dish overflowed with food.  The water dish overflowed with instantly-soggy food.  The mat underneath was covered in kibble.  The cats were indeed fed.  This ought to last 'em for a month!

For those counting the levels of passive aggressive behavior and keeping score, that's 75 incidents of temporary compliance and 1 heaping serving of intentional inefficiency for my passive aggressive cat feeder.





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2 comments:

  1. Exactly! I get this all the time. I can deal with it where my kids are concerned because I have authority over them and can impose consequences such as cleaning up the spilled food or denying him cuddle time with the pets if he hasn't taken care of them. But what do you do when you are dealing with adults on a peer to peer level and they are intentionally stonewalling you? I usually end up getting angry and damaging the relationship.

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  2. Thanks for your comment! Sounds like you get caught up in the same, predictable Conflict Cycle that passive aggressive people are so expert in instigating. The Angry Smile does talk specifically about 8 skills for effectively responding to the PA behavior of others and the six steps of Benign Confrontation that helps change PA behavior in the long term. It all starts with being able to quickly recognize the behavior for what it is and avoiding the angry, relationship-damaging reactions that you mention. Check out the book if you have the chance--I'd love to know what you think!

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