What I Learned From Being Passive Aggressive

The Introvert’s side of the story!

If this title got your attention, my guess is that you’re either passive-aggressive; introverted; both; or just interested. For all parties that have gathered, let me add the disclaimer that being an introvert is a personality trait and therefore reflects features of your personality.

However, being passive-aggressive is a behavior that can be demonstrated by any personality type. Introversion does not equal passive aggression. The two are mutually exclusive. Capisce? Capisce! Moving along.

If you’re an introvert, odds are you’re to yourself, don’t care to be in the spotlight, very observant, and breathe a great sigh of relief when plans get canceled. Sure, I just described myself, but if you checked those boxes too then hello fellow introvert!

With the common characteristics of this personality type being reticent and dare I say skeptical (sometimes) of the company of others, it is no wonder that confrontation repels the average introvert. Confrontation can be heated and intense, but other times it can be as simple as approaching someone regarding a minor issue (or vice versa).

Concisely put, confrontation can also be voicing your concerns where otherwise you would’ve been quiet.

Allow me to share with you all what being passive-aggressive has taught me.

1. People will misconstrue your silence as a license to push you around

Often times, silence is translated into a sign of weakness. It is assumed that because there is no blatant opposition to the matter at hand, you’ve forfeited all power to assert yourself. This moment becomes the reference point for future encounters. It starts as just one instance of compliance, then soon graduates into an endless “yes man” cycle. Though you’re reluctant, you find it hard to disagree now that you’ve set this trend of going along with it. And just like that, you find yourself being treated like a doormat.

2. Words will be put in your mouth

Silence leaves room for too many interpretations—many of which are not your own. Following this misconception is a string of many others that stem from the original. Along with pushing you around, people will nominate themselves as your honorary spokesperson. On those (rare) occasions when you want to speak up, you find that you’ve already been spoken for. The worst part is, the view or opinion doesn’t even fall in accordance with your actual views or opinions! It’s infuriating! 

Here’s a positive...

3. You become even more observant

Just because you’ve become the person that never speaks up, doesn’t mean your other abilities aren’t working. I found that my observation skills sharpened from staying quiet. While everyone else fought to be the loudest in the room, I was able to detect traits and qualities that were detrimental to many characters. You learn to avoid a certain type of person a lot easier when you can read them. Conversely, you learn to befriend those that are imperative to character development. These are good people you can learn from. 

And lastly, 

4. Your conscience will nag you.

This is the worst one. In fact, this is the one that drives me to speak up if I’ve received a wrong food order, a wrong service, or I’ve simply been cut in line. (Ok, still working on the last one.) I can admit, I’ve reluctantly taken a wrong food item and scolded myself for hours on end. The voice in your head is louder and more condemning than any outside voice could ever be. After all, you are your own worst critic, right?

This is the internal equivalent of blatantly disregarding a parent that told you to complete some household chores. Now the garage of that same parent is opening menacingly, the car engine is getting progressively louder, and all you’ve done all day was watch TV.

The voice in my head though is none of those things. It is the collective sound of the paced footsteps towards the door and the insertion of the key into the lock. I just can’t bear to relive this daunting scenario every time I shy away from conflict. So you see, I’ve learned to speak up over time. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than where I was. 

It’s hard to separate passive aggression from introversion, especially when the two are practically married. When trying to adjust to fit a new form of approach, it can feel as though you are completely altering your personality.

The good news though, time and experience will carve out your voice. I’ve spoken to a few older people, and they’ve all had similar experiences with being passive in their youth.

dealing with passive aggressive behavior
dealing with passive-aggressive

I’ve learned enough about myself to know that I no longer want to deal with the byproduct of being passive-aggressive. If you share the same sentiments, then it’s time to initiate the change. Start with something small and stay consistent. If you ever feel uncomfortable with these changes, you’re doing it right. It’s time to push out of that comfort zone. 

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