by andre briggs

Perils of Passive Aggression

Every find yourself being intentionally late? Or perhaps not moving your bag from the empty seat on the bus next to you? These are all examples of passive aggression. The truth is that it’s all around us and a reality that must be accepted.

Sometime it’s appropriate to call people out on their shit, but most of the time I find it’s prudent to let them get the angst out their system. The times that I do want tho call people out of their shit are the trickiest.

I’ll share some recent examples of calling people out on their shit.

I missed by connecting flight in Chicago heading back to Seattle. After initially going at a re-booking kiosk I’m told I need to go to the gate of another airline to sort out my seating.

Keep in mind I’m not the only passenger who missed this connecting flight and must rebook at the alternative airline.

As I’m walking up to the gate desk I notice the that female airline agent has her arms folded across her chest and is looking me up and down. Immediately I start thinking she is going to give me some attitude.

Unfortunately, she fulfilled the archetype1 of the black woman at your local DMV office.

I simply asked what seats were available and I sensed some surliness on her part. I couldn’t resist…so I called her out on it in front of her coworker and another customer heading to Seattle.

She was shocked but didn’t back down.

We were well past the egress of passive aggression and jetted the ingress of active aggression. I felt better, and have no regrets about that.

Eventually I got reseated but still went online after the exchange to reseat myself to a better seat. Ironically I guess that was a passive aggressive move on my part.2

What is Passive Aggression?

I just got done with a long winded story about passive aggression. Let’s re-visit examples of passive aggression so you can identifying it in yourself:

  • Being intentionally late.
  • Short and curt SMS responses. (e.g. “Ok”, “alrighty”)3.
  • Extremely delayed responses to emails or SMS.
  • At times: Ignorance to subjects.

Then there are the overt body language signals:

  • Huffing and puffing.
  • Anytime someone talks under their breath.
  • Pacing while waiting for something.
  • Squinty faces from older generation people (I get this a lot for a number of reasons…).

I’ll stress that not all passive aggression is done with intent to harm. Much of it is laziness.4

How I deal with it

Every since I was a kid a knew that stepping outside my home would invite people to treat me differently. Internalizing this reality has allowed me to focus on who I really am without worrying about the woman clutching her hand bag when I enter elevator with her.

This internalization has allowed me to see the behaviors of others whom try to hide it. It’s hard to hide forever. A person’s natural tendencies are oozing out. The body language wants to be seen and heard. It’s only so long one can hide their true thoughts and beliefs.

I suppose what I’m saying is that when you’re a target of passive aggression use a reversal stratagem. Turn your weakness into a strength.

  1. It sucks that Black American women are exclusively known of this.

  2. So did I really “win” in the subliminal game of wits?

  3. Maybe I shouldn’t make a rule of this in today’s due to “intelligent” canned response on many smartphone platforms.

  4. A lazy that may come from fear…does that make sense?