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:


7 (People) Mistakes I’ll Never Make Again


…and you don’t have to, if you learn from my experience.

2011 has been a year of learning in the social realm. I’ve discovered as much about people in this year as I have in the past ten. Much of this learning has been difficult — very difficult at times.

People can be a source of enjoyment, but can also prove to be a primary source of frustration. You can’t change this, and you can’t change their ways, but you can change the expectations you have of people and the way you approach them.

The following is what I’ve learned not to do when it comes to people and all kinds of relationships.

1. Assume your close friends and family know and understand you

Before this year I’d thought the people who I’ve known for years and had a close relationship with understood my way of thinking and motivations. But I was wrong — most people simply don’t understand (but think they do), and will easily misinterpret your simplest actions.

2. Believe people will be consistent in thought and behavior

Being fairly consistent, I expected other people to be as well, at least when they tried to be. However, people are a fickle bunch. There is no way of telling how they will feel or what they will do from one day to the next.

It’s not that they’re dishonest — they can truly mean something one day, and say or do something which contradicts it the next day. If you think you can hold someone to something they said weeks or months ago, forget it.

3. Assume people understand why they do things

As surprising as it may seem to people who are more self-aware, many people don’t understand themselves and their reasons for doing things. Often times they say or do what they feel like doing at the time, without comprehending why.

This ties into number one — if people don’t understand their own motivations, how could they possibly understand yours?

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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 Nice Guy ™

nice-guyThe Nice Guy ™ is a self-designated or given title for men who are usually kind, respectful, and friendly — especially towards women. The Nice Guy is well-liked, and even loved in his social circles, but there is one thing that frustrates him to no end.

He can never get the women he wants.

The Nice Guy often suffers in silence from a sense of neglect and mistreatment. He wonders why he is constantly passed over by women for men that seem to be his complete opposite — men who make a habit of not caring about the needs and desires of the women they are involved with. He is more bothered by this than he lets on.

After some time the Nice Guy may begin to believe that it is women who are the problem, not him. Women just don’t know a good thing — a Nice Guy ™ — when they see it. If they did, they would opt to live happily ever after with him instead of repeatedly choosing men who only break their hearts. Women must like jerks, not nice guys.

But what the Nice Guy fails to realize is that it is not his niceness that causes him to fail with women. It’s many of his other qualities and behavior that are the reason why he finishes last, every time.

The Nice Guy is insecure

Confidence is an attractive quality to both genders. What Nice Guys often lack, and what their jerky counterparts tend to have in abundance is confidence and a strong sense of self-worth. Confident people need little reassurance, are positive, and can even boost the confidence of those around them. Thus, the choice between an insecure guy and a confident guy is an easy one.

The Nice Guy is passive

Passive nice guys go with the flow, are overly cooperative, and try not to be noticed in any large way. And they get exactly what they hope for — they aren’t noticed. Anything in excess, even niceness and cooperation, can be a bad thing. Women begin to think the Nice Guy has no personality of his own; he simply agrees with the people around him. He brings nothing new, so he doesn’t intrigue.

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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.

See also: