Preventing Passivity


Aggression has a bad reputation, but what happens when you ignore the inevitable?

Most would consider niceness, calmness, and tolerance to be positive qualities, traits that make interactions pleasant for everyone involved. But too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and when grievances are not aired to “keep the peace”, a road to passivity is created.

Personally, a passive personality is even harder to deal with than its opposite — the aggressive personality. Most who regularly practice the art of passivity consider it a good thing, and consider themselves easygoing, nice people. For the most part, their passivity deflects confrontations  and conflicts that others easily fall into. The problem is that angry or sad feelings do not disappear when you choose to ignore or suppress them. They either cause resentment or arise in a later situation. It can also turn into passive-aggressive behavior, where the passive person’s ignored anger shows itself in subtle ways

After awhile, passivity becomes self-creating — suppressed negative feelings cause the passive person to feel more resentment towards whatever or whoever they believe caused them. When this happens, the feelings can be expressed more strongly than they would have been if they were dealt with immediately.

Conflicts caused by passive behavior can be hurtful and confusing for all involved. That said, here are some actionable tips to prevent yourself from slipping down the slide of passivity:

  • Practice speaking up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged
  • Express negative feelings constructively, as soon as they arise
  • Once a disagreement has been discussed, try your best to dissolve any resentment that might be leftover
  • Realize when trying to keep the peace is causing you to feel hurt or angry
  • Do not use disagreements of the past as a reason to be angry, or stay angry, with another person
  • Keep disagreements separate — if you dislike the way someone handled themselves in another situation, don’t bring it up in a later disagreement

Finally, remember that anger alone is not bad, it’s the way you deal with it that determines the outcome of a situation, and ignoring your anger is not the best way.

Anyone else with experience with passivity or other tips for stopping passivity in its tracks?

See also:

When Nice Is Cruel

broken-mirror-cloudsIs your niceness killing people, softly?

Niceness, politeness, and diplomacy are generally considered positive attributes. And for the past part, they are — if people weren’t as nice social relations wouldn’t run as smoothly, new environments would be unwelcoming, and life would generally be less pleasant. But the more discerning notice that niceness isn’t always what it’s hailed to be, and can even be the opposite of what it seems, that is, it can be cruel.

In my experience the Nicely Cruel manifest in three broad types, which can overlap but which each have their own particular motivations. The Nicely Cruel all have one thing in common — they expect something in return for their nice deeds.

The Martyr

The Martyr is probably the most obvious and well-known of the Kindly Cruel. The Martyr makes a lifestyle of doing things for others and sacrificing their own well-being so that others are taken care of. Somewhere along the line the Martyr decided that their life’s purpose was to help other people and become known as the “good” person.

The hitch to the martyr’s endless giving is clear after some time — they expect you to do endlessly for them as well. The problem comes when you’re not aware of this implicit agreement and take the Martyr’s gifts as just that. Then the Martyr attempts to guilt you into returning the favors or brands you a selfish and “bad” person.

The Good Guy (or Girl)

Not to be confused with The Nice Guy ™

The Good Guy’s niceness stems from an overwhelming need to see himself as a nice and “good” person, and to have others see him this way as well. This desire is so strong that the Good Guy will do what others ask without thinking about whether he really wants to do it or not.

The issue with the Good Guy comes when he realizes, or comes to terms with, the fact that he is just like everyone else; not so “good” after all and never wanted to do any of the things he did. Once he comes to this realization he will either take back his gifts or if that is not possible, bitterly denounce the persons who received them. People are left bewildered at how such a Good Guy could turn out to be anything but, and what they did to cause his passive-aggressive frustration.

Needless to say the Good Guy is often, if not always, a passive personality.

“Never Say No”s

The Never Say Nos are easy to understand — they never say no. And because they never say no they end up doing many things they would rather not. But why do they never say no? Well, because it’s simply not nice! And being nice is of the utmost importance.

What the Never Say No wants is simply for you to acknowledge that they are a very nice person. And should you ever imply that they are not that nice or that their favors aren’t that noteworthy, then they will suddenly begin to say no. Why not, since you don’t see that they are such a nice person? Their favors would be lost on such an ungrateful person.

Anyone else have experience with the Nicely Cruel?

See also:

The Manipulative Personality

manipulative-personalityManipulators attempt to indirectly control or influence the actions and behavior of others. Instead of being direct with their methods, the manipulator uses underhanded tactics to force their will. Because they are subtle, the manipulative personality easily goes undetected and overlooked, and the person or people being manipulated don’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late. Or not at all. They may believe that they are obligated to do what the manipulator wishes, and feel guilty if they don’t. The manipulative personality may be a family member, friend, or colleague.

With experience or learning, the manipulative personality is much easier to recognize. But many people learn through hard experience what manipulative behavior looks like, and it doesn’t have to be that way. The safest way to learn about the manipulative personality is from a distance, from those who have studied these personalities.

Experts agree that there are three main types of manipulative personality:

  • The Narcissist — The Narcissist is the ultimate manipulator. They are egotistic, self-absorbed and feel entitled to nearly everything they desire. They lack empathy and consideration for others, so they will easily manipulate to their own gain. They think it is their right to have others do what they say.
  • The Needy — The Needy person is the most difficult type of manipulator to let go of. They are experts at making you feel sorry for them, and making you feel like you are the only person that can help them. Some Needy personalities don’t realize that they are manipulative. They have learned to depend on others for their needs, and simply don’t know how to get along without help. They may cry or become offended when accused of manipulation. Those that realize they are manipulative may become passive-aggressive in their attempts to regain control.
  • The Martyr — This type of personality will give you everything — but at a price. They will do you favors, give you special attention, and be overly considerate, but they expect much in return. Their giving is tied to their desire to be considered a “good person” or be considered important to another person. They “cash in” on the favors they’ve done for you to get you to comply with their wishes. Common phrases heard from the Martyr include, “After all I’ve done for you” and “I would do it for you.”

The most common methods of manipulation are flattery, guilt-tripping, repetition, assumption, confrontation, and gaslighting: a way of twisting information in such a way that the person being manipulated begins to doubt their own perceptions and memory.

The best way to deal with a manipulative personality is to acknowledge their ways outright and respond calmly, and even turn their own tactics against them. The manipulator is counting on you to be surprised, confused, and overreact to them, so don’t be. If they say “After all that I’ve done for you!” reply “I’m very grateful for all that you’ve done. Why do you think I’m not? That’s not very nice of you.”

Once the manipulator realizes that they can’t affect you in the way that they want, and can’t influence your thoughts or actions, they will move on. And even if they don’t — you’re safe. Manipulation is all about control, and once you figure out the manipulative personality, they are no longer in control.

Do you have any experience with manipulative personalities? Do you have tips for how to deal with manipulation?

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Alee vs. The 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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