Passive aggressiveness: The quickest way to let someone know you’re being a douche next to wearing a sign that says, “I’m being a douche.”
None of us are immune to it. I myself am a big fan of answering the question “What’s wrong?” with “nothing” or “I’m fine.” I most often choose to answer in such a way while refusing to make eye contact and generally being a huffy nincompoop. It is by far one of my least attractive features and even while I am acting in this way I am thinking, “Wow, you’re being such a douche right now” and the other side of my brain goes, “God, I know right? I am really not liking her right now.” I also like to make a lot of unnecessary noise during these times by moving a chair or putting away the dishes with gusto.
It’s really not cute. I’m aware of it. Once in awhile I try to catch myself but sometimes it just rears its ugly head before I even have the chance to slow it down.
The thing is, especially with working in retail, you come across passive aggressive behaviour all the time. It is a common blight on society, this sort of attitude, that manifests itself perfectly during interactions with service workers. You cannot work with the public for long before you meet Mr. Complainer who only wants to complain and who, when offered a world of options for resolution, says, “No, it’s fine. I don’t really care I just want you to know what happened.” But he says it with a snarl. And a glare.
It is not just a employee-customer situation either – many times, especially in places with a large amount of staff, there are the same sort of interactions among the employees. I remember a few years back I was slightly interested in a co-worker who I suppose another girl was as well given that she approached me directly after I had finished a conversation with the guy in question and said, “Have you seen He’s Just Not That Into You yet? I really think you’d like it.” Then she smiled and walked away.
You have to give her points for it, really.
Now that I’m talking about it, though, I’m realizing that these passive aggressive, attitude-filled, catty interactions are really not simply a matter of workplace situations. That conversation with that girl could have happened anywhere. And Mr. Complainer probably complains the same way to his wife at home about the lasagna he just bought (which he will likely buy again).
Clearly I am not the only one in the world who notices or participates in this sort of behaviour, as evidenced by passiveaggressivenotes.com, and we all know that it is incredibly unattractive and rude behaviour. So why do we still do it? Why do you still do it? (Don’t you dare pretend you don’t, I saw you move that stapler back to where you wanted it when that bitch Marcy who always moves your stapler wasn’t looking.)
There have been many conversations and articles over the last decade or so about the breakdown in communication among people due to the rise of the internet but I don’t think that’s it. Passive aggressiveness would have started long before “You’ve Got Mail” became a thing. Maybe it is the ugly step-sister of sarcasm: not as funny, not as cute, but another way to say what you’re trying to say without actually saying it.
Are we just cowards then, too scared to face the reaction of simply saying, “No, I’m not okay” or “You sold me a shitty lasagna” or “I know he’s into me because he kissed me last night you twat”? Wouldn’t the world be an easier place if we all just communicated openly and honestly?
Perhaps we simply enjoy the entertainment of this behaviour in some twisted way. After all, it is always the stories of the passive aggressive customers I relay first to anyone who is looking for a good laugh. It is always those moments when I’m sitting with my arms crossed and pouting that my boyfriend later mocks me for.
So perhaps we are all just craving entertainment and attention and we will stop at nothing to get it. Or at least we won’t stop what we already know works.