misplaced passive assertive aggression

On the road to equilibrium, a friend made me aware of something I’m already aware of, but not in the sense of self-analysis.

Let’s say there are four types of communication. They are:

  • Passive
  • Assertive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive Aggressive

Defining these terms is likely somewhat simple for you. They were for me. For some help, a simple google search is doable. Or try this one.

There are a few thoughts I have regarding this new awareness of something old.

But the way I understand it, assertiveness provides the best form of communication, and how it was described to me, almost utopian in nature.

On further analysis, assertiveness is the form of communication that is the most absent in our culture. Most people communicate either passively or aggressively. Or passive aggressive.

I know I’m very guilty of this, here on this blog and in “real life”. For the most part, I’ve been unaware of how passive aggressive I am.

For instance, the other day, I photographed a band and it took me longer to do than I anticipated. Tina wasn’t with me, and she didn’t understand why it took me so long. She also wasn’t understanding that some of my negativity about the shoot was not directly correlated with the happiness of shooting a band like this.

So she kept harping on the idea that it was negative and asking why would I want to do it then. I became frustrated, because my communication, while direct to me, wasn’t sinking in to Tina’s brain. We had picked up groceries during the discussion, and when we were getting out of the car, I picked everything out of the car, expecting Tina to say, “What can I take up? You’re clearly bogged down with two camera bags, a grocery bag and a 12-pack of bubbly water.”

But she didn’t. So I didn’t say anything. I huffed up the stairs in a sort of temper tantrum-y, “Why wouldn’t she ask to help?” fit.

When I got through the door and to the table to set down everything, the cardboard in the 12-pack of bubbly water cans ripped and they tumbled to the floor. “FUCK!” I shouted and kicked one of the cans as it hit the floor, which immediately burst and splattered everywhere.

“What is going on!?” Tina called out. “What happened? Why didn’t you ask for help?”

“I was hoping you would notice that I was weighted down to the hilt and ask me!”

The argument dissolved, but I had to ask myself, “Why didn’t I ask for help?” Why did my passiveness result in a loss of temper? It was clearly my fault. I didn’t assert what I wanted, and I paid the price for it.

Aggression ain’t just a river in Egypt. 

On this road of discovery, I learned more about the concept of aggression. People often don’t realize they are communicating aggressively. Yes, aggressiveness can pertain to belittling others, or personal attacks, to get what the aggressor wants.

But aggression is also not listening. Aggression is talking over someone. Aggression is an “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude.

Assertiveness is allowing others to be right as well.

Where I grew up, religiosity was/is an aggressive stance in conversational activity. It’s aggressive in that it teaches not to listen to others points of view, not to be an active, empathetic listener. It doesn’t allow others to have a valid perspective.

And you know what, this aggression leads to developing enemies. It leads to developing a passive aggression from those who we love.

It’s an inadvertent yet direct way to say, “Fuck you.”

Be Assertive. Be be assertive. 

My misunderstanding about these types of communication types has certainly caused a dramatic withdrawal from my public persona, not only in my inner-personal relationships, but my business, my family and my social media.

Often, my communication slips from passive to aggressive in one fell swoop. I hate feeling like I’m being stepped on. I feel like I am not heard or listened to, and then someone posts something on Facebook gets the wrath of my passiveness.

The other day, I wreaked havoc on a friend’s wife. I mean, HAVOC.

Social Media is worsening the concepts of passive aggression.

When you post to a social media site that is controversial to one set of your “friends” and favorable to the other half, you’re basically saying to one group, “Fuck you” and to the other group, “See, we’re right and they’re wrong. Slap five.”

People think they’re being assertive, while they’re being aggressive in disguise. 

Being assertive is stating ones opinion, but not saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It’s a listening attitude, rather than a one-way directional, from-the-pulpit kind of communication.

That’s why comments are always open here. So comment. And I’ll be better about keeping my aggression in check. 🙂

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