Posted by: CJ | April 25, 2009

Passive-aggressive Tactics

Two of my favorite passive-aggressive tactics. For a suitable definition of favorite.

The first is a defocusing/refocusing technique. It’s good for when someone else has a problem you don’t want to deal with, but that you also don’t want to tell them to go away. Instead you just subtly take control of the situation. You start one-upping them in terms of how difficult life is, or you do or say something that crosses a line. Anything with no lasting consequences to make it so that the problem shifts from them to you. Once you’re the problem, it’s your choice how long to continue the interaction.

The other is a way of expressing preferences. It’s the exact opposite, in the sense that you deny any responsibility. Suppose that you’re really bad at being in conflict with someone. You just don’t like it. Or you’re embarrassed to be the one to nix a choice or option. So instead you just display extreme reluctance to agree with what the other person has said until they say what you want. It’s a simple way of guiding someone to doing what you want without taking an active role in making the choice.



  1. so you’re writing a handbook for budding passive aggressives? Way to be a life coach, honey! Switching majors?

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