I’m a “just spit it out” kind of woman. It gets me in trouble sometimes, but I figured out a while back that I have more problems with things I didn’t say than those I did.
I have this theory that if you don’t say it and keep rolling around in your mind, it will eventually come out anyway. When it does, it’s usually done with a good dose of passive-aggressive. Oh you know what that is….. usually ugly stuff wrapped up as a pretty package. Saying things under a veil instead of out in the light.
Now I will not malign the passive-aggressive approach completely. On occasion it is the kindest approach because it is the only one the others involved are ready to receive. Though usually just thinking through how you can say things kindly but openly is the better approach. OK…maybe it is never good and I am trying to justify my behavior on occasion.
More often than not the passive-aggressive approach is used because of your own cowardice. You want to send a message, but are not willing to face the fallout. You’re not willing to face the truth coming back in your face. You’re not willing to invest anything of yourself to help the situation. Often it becomes your way of life because you appear the innocent, yet you’re getting your digs in. And getting your digs in feels good. Because you’re petty that way. If anyone challenges you, you can bat your eyes and say “I didn’t say that” (you did), “That’s not what I meant” (you did); or ‘Why are you over-reacting?” (because they got your thinly veiled message.)
How do you see it in real life? Look at Facebook. It’s a breeding ground. The blind posts. The comment that hits a person at their point of greatest sensitivity, but seems harmless to those who don’t know them well. The stories that skim the surface, but don’t tell the whole truth and are designed so you champion the “poor misunderstood” writer/”victim”.
Passive-aggressives are the world’s greatest fishermen. They are champions. You’ll never see the picture of what they caught, you’ll just hear their fish story. It sounds like a magnificent catch, huh? But in reality those “fish” they are catching are really old trashed boots, not fish at all. So maybe they are 10 lbs. apiece, but never would they truly satisfy anyone’s hunger. And the only reason there should be accolades is because that person helped clean up a river…..which is something you could legitimately praise them for if they told you the truth. But cleaning up rivers is not what the passive-aggressive is all about. They are typically blind to trash.
In our overly-aggressive culture, we often have Facebook court, which is almost always on the side of the “friend” posting. But a fair trial gives the full evidence of all concerned parties. One thing I have discovered….most of us will offer a verdict regardless of whether all the facts are presented and almost always the verdict goes to the poster. What do I know from observing and knowing some of the background of some of these mini-courts? Often (almost always) the facts are not complete.
Why does this matter? I have seen reputations of good people trashed when Facebook court, or the court of public opinion, declared them guilty. Sometimes names were not used so the jury did not even know who they were pronouncing guilty (and it would have mattered), yet that was pertinent to the situation and hurt people who did not deserve it. Other times it was one of those things that had no business being aired in public for the entertainment of others. And yes…..it is entertainment for most watching, be it a comedy, a drama, or a horror show.
Come on adults, let’s act like adults. Let’s be kindly confrontational. I do know that people have issues these days with criticism, even offered to be helpful. I tend to be a “helper”…..and sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut, remembering that imperfect people are going to get on my nerves from time to time. But if I need to say something (a big if, since I don’t need to get involved each time something annoys me….it quite often could be me who is the issue), I need to spit out. Not beat around the bush, not let it come out in subtle but harmful ways that are meant to be a constant pinprick to the “offending party”.
Most of us have been privy to the passive-aggressive dart tossed in our direction that has almost hit the bullseye and has us worrying ourselves to death over an ill-defined “offense”. I’ll tell you my personal vow….if someone can’t spit it out, I’m not going to waste time trying to read their mind. If they cared, they would invest in me and tell me the hard truths. That’s what you do when you care about people. I don’t have to agree with them or change necessarily, but I should consider it. If they present one hard truth after another (in fact, if that is the bulk of our relationship), maybe they aren’t really my friend. Or maybe I do have a lot of work to do. We need to look in the mirror and decide.
I’m not always an easy friend, but am always the kind of friend who wants the best life for my people. I’m a truth teller. But when you look inward, my “truth” may not be your truth. That’s OK. You get to decide what kind of person you’re going to be. We’re not all created the same. Some of our best qualities may annoy others. I know there are things about me that people want me to change that, though I considered it, I don’t agree change is needed. My opinion rules. I will accept any consequences.
One of my truth-teller rules is that I try to only tell the hard truths once. I have almost ruined relationships harping on things they heard the first time, but weren’t willing or ready to change. Or even better, it was in the past and they couldn’t change. I have learned to say “I will try not to bring this up again. If you want to talk about it, we can. But if I slip and you don’t want to discuss (because knowing me, chances are good it can happen) the ‘magic’ words are ‘We already discussed this.'” That makes me shut my mouth. Immediately.
Be kind, inside and out. Don’t let the passive-aggressive comments be your go-to. Be light in the lives of those around you, not darkness. That means letting your words be things that are truly designed to make their lives better and brighter, help them move on from past mistakes, and not push them into dark pits of self-flagellation. There are enough broken people around to do that to them without you piling on.
Passive-aggressive behavior destroyed my marriage. I vowed never again to put up with it. Passive aggression is, at it’s root, a lie. Lying is never good.
Great post 🙂