Alee vs. The Passive Personality

passive-personality

Passive persons need not apply.

Among personality types which annoy me, the passive personality stands alone. Try as I may, I can not get myself to like or appreciate a passive person, or good qualities associated with passivity (which I’m not sure exist).

To be clear, by passive I don’t mean nice, laid-back, or cooperative. As a kind person myself, I like nice people, and a cooperative spirit is something to be admired. By passive I mean the say-yes-when-you-mean-no, avoid any direct action, and overly compliant.

I’ve tried to understand what irks me so much about the passive personality type — why this seemingly harmless personality never fails to exasperate me. I’ve honed in on three major factors:

The passive person rarely takes a stand

In attempts to satisfy everyone, or more importantly, not cause trouble for themself, the passive person makes a habit of taking an indefinite position on nearly everything. This doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion on certain issues, but that they choose not to express them in the belief that they can save themselves the trouble of having people disagree with them. They are not honest.

The passive person is not open about their feelings

The passive person likes to stay in the background, watching things intently. But when asked how they feel about something, they hesitate to express their feelings, or agrees with whatever they believe the asker feels about the situation. When truly bothered by an incident they don’t become more open, but they do become more aggressive. Passive-aggressive, that is.

Passive can equal passive-aggressive

Instead of openly expressing their anger or dissatisfaction, the passive person often uses indirect ways to show their resentment. This includes, but is not limited to, playing the victim, making sarcastic comments, and backstabbing.  Because this behavior sometimes works to make others believe they are at fault, the passive person continues to use these tactics. And the cycle of endlessly passive behavior continues.

If you’re a passive personality, I already know how you feel about this post. And you’re probably glad I do, since you weren’t going to tell me anyway.

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19 thoughts on “Alee vs. The Passive Personality

  1. Oh my God, are we long-lost twins?

    I hate, with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, passive people. And I 1000% cosign your reasons:

    The passive person makes a habit of taking an indefinite position on nearly everything.

    Passive people have no loyalty–not to friends nor to their beliefs. I much prefer someone who stands by what s/he believes in (even if I don’t agree with it) than someone who flip-flops whatever way the wind blows.

    [The passive person] agrees with whatever they believe the asker feels about the situation.

    Another thing I hate. A real friend will tell you the truth knowing you’ll be better off in the long run. I notice that passive people like to talk a lot of crap, but never want to back it up when confronted.

    Instead of openly expressing their anger or dissatisfaction, the passive person often uses indirect ways to show their resentment.

    Passive-aggressiveness is the worst, and passive people seem to like playing the victim a lot. I’ve had some people disappear out of my life (not that I’m complaining) when I told them that I didn’t tolerate grown folks’ temper tantrums.

  2. Jasmin,

    “Oh my God, are we long-lost twins?”

    Yes. Call me Jaslin. 🙂

    “I much prefer someone who stands by what s/he believes in (even if I don’t agree with it) than someone who flip-flops whatever way the wind blows.”

    Absolutely. Some (especially passive personalities) see this is as being “dogmatic” or “close-minded” but I think it is just being consistent.

    “I notice that passive people like to talk a lot of crap, but never want to back it up when confronted…passive people seem to like playing the victim a lot.”

    Indeed. That brings to mind a certain person, from a recently abandoned (by me) blog, whose parents originate from a landmass routinely separated into two continents…

    “I’ve had some people disappear out of my life (not that I’m complaining) when I told them that I didn’t tolerate grown folks’ temper tantrums.”

    I can only wish passive people would disappear from my life, but I seem to attract them by the dozens.

  3. You see, this is interesting. I know some people who’d describe me as passive, because I tend not to talk much… if at all. I am often unable to express myself verbally.

    I don’t know if that counts as being passive, but it’s sure annoying (to myself, and others, I guess).

    As for passive-aggressive behavior, I am sorry to say my mother often fits here. She loves me more than anything in the Universe, and yet, she often makes me feel guilty about neglecting her (and it was something she started doing way back, when I was about 3 or 4). It had a great impact on my personality.

  4. Mira, I don’t think quiet person = passive person. Quietness is a passive action, but that a separate issue from being passive in general. Many quiet people are not passive overall, and many passive people are not quiet. Not talking a lot could just mean you are introverted, shy, or very contemplative. I tend to be pretty quiet as well, but I’m not passive.

    Sorry about your mother being passive-aggressive. But I’ve known several mothers like that, so at least you’re not alone.

  5. I can only wish passive people would disappear from my life, but I seem to attract them by the dozens.

    Passive people tend to be very manipulative, and passive women especially seem to want the perks of being the HBIC without being front-and-center in the drama.

  6. Jasmin,

    “Passive people tend to be very manipulative”

    I didn’t want to be the one to say it! 🙂

    And when they are confronted about their manipulative ways, many passive people just play their favorite character — the victim.

  7. Blimey!. I too dislike these kinds of people and agree with all of your summations. I only seem to attract these kinds of people though, those who need my assertive stance, but are never supportive the other way around and often times stab me in the back. Well, bugger them. I finally took a stock of what’s important and the sort of energy I’m releasing and deleted them all out of my life. Am dealing now with the ones at work, whom I can’t avoid, but am learning ways, like staying mum on issues that they constantly complain about and yet do nothing about to alleviate their situation. Walking away with a firm, “gotta rush” without feeling guilty.

  8. foosrock,

    …staying mum on issues that they constantly complain about and yet do nothing about to alleviate their situation.”

    Oh yes, the do-nothing-complainers. Might have a post on them in the near future. 🙂

  9. Instead of saying all the things we hate about passive people, would it not be better to see that they have a personality disorder and encourage them to get help. They could get help and become happier, independent thinkers. Then you could enjoy their company as well. 🙂 Joanie

  10. Joanie,

    Passiveness is a personality disorder? I always thought it was more like a personality type… but I guess it could be considered a disorder. However, I think they can only help themselves. 🙂

  11. Alee,

    Reading your post gives me the feeling I fall in the “passive personality” category. I’ve been analyzing my character and behavior a lot lately and am actively looking for new ways to break my old thinking patterns. I’m truly unhappy being stuck in my mind sometimes. And the most ironic thing is I don’t enjoy being in the company of passive people either. 🙂

  12. Hi Nev,

    “Reading your post gives me the feeling I fall in the “passive personality” category.”

    Oh, well that’s just awful. 🙂

    Good that you’re trying to change.

    “the most ironic thing is I don’t enjoy being in the company of passive people either.”

    That’s a good point; it doesn’t seem that even passive people are too fond of other passive people. So it makes you wonder why they still behave that way anyway. I think it’s a combination of innate personality + experiences + old habits that are hard to break.

  13. Alee,

    According to what I’ve observed so far my guess is that it’s a result of a few key factors. To begin with passive people seem to be overly self-aware in social surroundings, feel too exposed if you will and feel like whatever they do or say they will be dudged, and because of that they reduce their communication with people hoping to stay unnoticed. After that happens though, that gives other people less true information about the passive person. That’s where serious miscommunication begins – passive people feel like others don’t understand them (which is true because of the lack of honesty of the passive person) and become more and more frustrated because of this until one day they can’t take it anymore and snap. The weird part is that this pattern repeats over and over again even if you are somewhat aware.

  14. Nev,

    Yes, I completely agree with your observation (Have you been observing your own behavior? :)). I’ve experienced it more than a few times and it’s frustrating. Especially if the passive person blames other people for “using” them, misunderstanding them, etc. They often don’t realize or don’t want to take responsibility for the fact that they’re not being open about their true desires, thoughts, and feelings. It’s as if they expect people to just know and accommodate them.

  15. Hmm I think I know a few people who might describe me as passive or at least in recent years but I think its more of me just calming down and becoming more laid back. When I was in my early twenties people would describe me as way too opinionated and dogmatic. If I didnt like something Id openly say it or if I knew someone was wrong even over the smallest thing, Id correct them even my mom. I remember my mom sarcastically saying “I hope you find that perfect person that always has every t crossed and i’s dotted”. I think back then I was still in that “teen angst stage” even into my early twenties where I thought i knew everything. I was probably an annoying person to be around at times.

    I have no problem openly disagreeing now but I only will bother if its something im passionate about (like race for instance), or someone is trying to force their opinions on me (which the latter happens quite a bit from my coworkers to “friends” who I dont really consider friends). If it doesnt fall in those two cateogories, I just stay out of it not really to avoid drama but simply cause I dont care enough to bother so according to this definition im not really passive just laid back.

    Theres this show on VH1 called tough love and its in its 3rd season. Theres two attractive black women on there. One who I really like and this other who I really dont because she is always forcing her opinions on people when no one asked. She’s always “calling people out” as she likes to say. I think shes mentioned about not wanting to come off like the angry black woman saying she’s not angry, shes opinionated. Thats good and well too but she doesnt realize not everyone cares for her opinions all the time cause its not any of her business. That should be another post cause I cant stand people like that either. Im not really around any truly passive people but do have to deal with people always trying to force their opinions in my day to day life.

  16. Jessica,

    You don’t seem passive to me. Or overly opinionated and forceful — you’re a nice medium.

    “That should be another post cause I cant stand people like that either.”

    Hmmm… I’ll think about it. 🙂

  17. Nev,

    That’s good. Life is an adventure in self-awareness.

    You should share some more of your observations and welcome again. 🙂

  18. Agree with this a million times over! I am currently having troubles with a passive friend who prefers to shy away from confrontation instead of just dealing with it head on. It’s so frustrating for me because I hate not knowing where I stand with people. I wish people would just make their feelings clear. I might not agree with them but I would respect them a lot more for it!

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