If you caught my Friday Flip Off post within the first five seconds of my posting it, you would have seen me passive-aggressively bitching about people not receiving my passive-aggressive message. Then I took it down because I’m paranoid.

But let’s talk about passive-aggression and why we, me, love it so much. The quick answer is, of course, it’s totally non-confrontational and easy. It’s pretty much the reason post-its were invented.

All images are from PassiveAgressiveNotes – awesome.

I do think a deeper reason is that, at our core, we are concerned for our fellow human beings. We don’t like hurting people. We don’t like them knowing that we have some kind of a problem with how they are doing things. We will cry bucket tears if we actually, say, had to tell the IT jerk that his foul odor is killing the plants. We would rather leave a note. Or drop a subtle comment on wondering what that smell is – lookdirectlyatguyhopehegetsit – no? Damn.

On the surface passive-aggression seems like a win/win. Person gets message. They are not offended, at least not by you since they don’t know it was you. or if they are offended and they know it’s you, you are already miles away and they, in theory, get over it.

Except, sadly, that’s never how it works. The main problem with p-a is that it’s straight fucking confusing. It leaves the person who was p-aed against p-od. The other problem is that if you respect someone (and you should respect people) then they deserve to not be mind-fucked. You deserve to grow some balls and not be a mind-fucker.

The other problem is that by backing out of the exchange (for not wanting to hurt feelings/being afraid of direct communication), you tend to be a LOT meaner than you would be in person. For example, hilariously telling people to die. Die! That’s vicious shit.

Not being p-a is so much easier said than done though. Trust me. I’m like the worst offender.

So how to be less p-a.

First, take a deep breath and evaluate. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Don’t be mean.

Second, don’t try to anticipate. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve run 50 scenarios through my head only to have none of them be right. People react in complicated ways for complicated reasons and you can’t see the future. Sucks but that’s the rules.

Third, say what you need to say privately. Don’t call the person out in public. That’s bad manners.

Fourth, do NOT negotiate. This isn’t a pissing contest and it doesn’t have to be a confrontation.


You: Hey coworker your smell is bothering me. I’m not sure if you realize how much.

Coworker: yeah well YOUR smell bothers me and I take showers I don’t know what you’re smelling.

You: Hmmm. I’ll definitely pay more attention to my hygiene! How was your weekend?

See – you don’t need to convince the coworker that he smells or that you don’t. You’ve said your piece and trust me, he heard it he’s just not processing. He probably will later after his stung feelings cool off.

Negotiating leads to fighting and fighting is why people go all passive-aggressive.

Um, not that I’ve managed to have that supposed conversation..but, like, one day?


Perhaps a note first.