I have been told that I am a bit passive-aggressive. I did not really get it until I started evaluating some of the simple-yet-destructive words I was saying. If have encountered an act of passive aggression then you already know that it is never the best way to resolve a conflict. And, if you are like me and been dishing it out, you also know that it is never the best way to resolve conflicts.
Passive-aggressive behavior is frustrating for both parties involved. It is unproductive and it makes you and others become less trusted in the workplace. After allowing my behavior to destroy a few relationships (that I did not even realize was happening), I decided to figure out what I was doing and fixed it immediately.
Here are 12 common passive-aggressive text phrases and the true meaning behind them so that next time you encounter them, you will know how to proceed a little better and in a more productive manner.
My best friend recently brought this phrase to my attention. As my friend pointed out, whenever someone tells you that everything is "fine," that always means the opposite. It turns out this is pretty spot-on. Signe Whitson L.S.W. states in Psychology Today that the “passive aggressive person uses phrases like 'Fine’ in order to express anger indirectly and to shut down direct, emotionally honest communication.”
2. “No worries.”
Actually, you do have worries. Christine Schoenwald elaborates in Thought Catalog that “This translates to ‘I’m saying no worries but what I actually mean is screw you. I won’t say what I’m really feeling but will hold it against you until I explode.’”
3. “If you really want to.”
This may appear to be accommodating at first, but do not be fooled. It is actually being noncommittal. It may sound like going along with the plan, but inside, they are not all that thrilled—but they do not know how to communicate those feelings.
4. “Thanks in advance.”
I am horrible at this one and it is something I am working on each day. Another phrase that may appear innocent at first but it pretty much means that you are expecting them to do whatever it is you are asking and they have to do it. This damages your relationship with this person.
5. “I was surprised/confused/curious about…”
When you hear or see this text you can be certain that it is used to disguise criticism, as opposed to be being upfront. Jennifer Winter recalls on The Muse the time she had a colleague who used phrases like this as “an attempt to soften the blow.” Winter, however, “took it as a stab in the back because my boss was in attendance—and that feeling led me to promptly ignore her feedback.”
6. “I’m not mad.”
This one destroyed my relationship with my ex-wife. I never expressed how I truly felt. I have now learned to voice my opinions openly and be honest with my spouse. It is the same in the workplace. Yes. This person is livid. They are simply not being honest with you. I find that whenever I use this phrase I do not feel like I can be honest with the person. Learn to express how you feel.
I once had a disagreement with a friend that took place over text messaging. When they dropped the ‘whatever’ response I almost went through the roof. It was infuriating because I knew that they did care, they simply did not want to keep that discussion going. Yes this person is mad, and now you are too. It is not helping.
How can a two-letter word pack such a punch? Because most of the time it is followed by text that is either awkward or it shows their agitation. For example, “So... are we going to the movies tonight?” or “So... did you get my email?” The person on the other side is clearly agitated that you have not responded yet. And that is a problem when you honestly have not had a chance to get back to them.
Or, it could be the beginning of an uncomfortable conversation, they simply do not know how to come out and say it. When someone says, "So..." to me, and then that weird pause, I have the almost irresistible desire to say, "so....what?" And make an exit. This can even be expressed in the content marketing you put up on your website.
9. “Just wondering…”
You see this text when someone is asking you for an unreasonable request, like “Just wondering if you were in the city tomorrow and could pick-up my brother for the train station?” Even if you were in the city, the train station could be nowhere close to where you are at. In other words, this person knows that they should not be asking you for this favor, but they are going to ask anyway. Do keep in mind that some shy people may use this question when asking if you want to go somewhere, or do something with them. Like, "I was just wondering if you would like to go to the movies with me?"
Related: The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Email
10. “I was only joking.”
Sarcasm is on the most common manifestations of passive aggressiveness. If this person makes a comment that upsets you and this is what follows, then you know it was not a joke at all. They meant what they said, but are backing away to cover-up their true feelings. This is an especially damaging phrase when used in a relationship or (often) in front of other people, as a put-down.
11. “Hope it’s worth it.”
This phrase should be rather obvious. The person you are communicating with clearly does not want you to do something, but is well-aware that you are going to do so anyway. Instead of expressing their concern, they will leave with this passive aggressive text and stew until it becomes a major issue. This person will also beg you to tell them about it later so they can use the phrase again on you. It is a shaming phrase.
12. “Your thoughts?”
In most cases I find this a pretty harmless phrase. Asking someone their thoughts on dinner, etc. However, this phrase can even be used a way to tell someone that they screwed up. "Your behavior has been subpar at work, your thoughts?" or "I wasn't that happy with how this assignment turned out, your thoughts?" Both of these are passive aggressive and damage your relationship with the person.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.
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