I know I am. I have to fight it. Most people are a little passive aggressive, especially in their marriage, but some people are masters at it, like me. I have battled it and I've gotten pretty decent at overcoming it, but there are still a few kinds of people that really turn on my passive aggressive faucets. Here is one of the greatest traits of a passive aggressive personality: Instead of confronting you on what is really bothering us, we will inadvertently attempt to punish you or correct you by either, 1. Ignoring you, 2. telling you that you are wrong by pointing out to someone else what we hate about you, without ever really addressing you personally.
Say, I'm at a party. And my neighbor is there. And my neighbor has been making a bunch of noise. Instead of directly confronting my neighbor, I will talk to another friend, while my neighbor is present, and mention how much I hate loud noise at night and how neighbors that play loud music after 10 should be shot. So, the neighbor is standing there, and they say, "Oh, I hope that wasn't me. I had loud music on the other night!" And you turn to your neighbor, sugar sweet, because you have avoided confrontation, and say, "Oh, no, you guys are great! It's those other guys that get on my nerves."
The neighbor walks away, but somehow knows that they were talking about them but just didn't say so.
The saddest part about that whole confrontation is what it does to the friendship. Because dishonesty was sown into the meeting, it is, until resolved, permanently damaged. Passive aggressive people try to teach others a lesson by teaching everyone else a lesson except the person that they are really trying to teach a lesson to.
In the deep South, (Alabama, Georgia, and some parts of Texas-usually from the Deep South but immigrated to Texas,) passive aggressive is called: "Politeness." It is taught and grafted into our genes. In the north, it is called talking out your ass. In the north they go the opposite way and the natural disposition is crabby. Whereas in the South it is a smile with a dagger waiting just under the petticoat. There are pros and cons to both, in my opinion, but in the end, I prefer the honesty. It hurts, but it is a much better treatment for the problem.
When I was going through my heavy metal phase in High School, I remember a certain Deacon's wife who always taught our Sunday School class. Instead of saying, "Seth, I don't think that Heavy Metal music is good for your soul," she would say, "So class, how is Sodom and Gomorah like listening to dangerous Heavy Metal music?" I do that stuff to Amber sometimes, if she has done something that has hurt my feelings. It is a good thing for me that she sees right through it, and not only sees through it, she just right then and there blows it out in the open. Its just awesome.
One of the MANY reason why I knew Amber was for me is that there isn't a passive aggressive bone in her body. If she disagrees with you, she says so. If she thinks she's offended you, she says so and tries to make it right. She is the truest person I've ever known (to quote Shadowlands.) When I try the silent treatment, she won't have it. She engages me until I spit out why I am mad. She forces me out of cowardice. Which in the end, is what passive aggressive is all about: Being a controlling chicken. You are too afraid of risking damage to the relationship so you try to control it instead of confronting.
I still work on it, to this day, but the biggest breakthrough came with one of my composition teachers at Rice. He was a substitute prof., sitting in for one of the professors on sabatical. Not only was he a great composer at 72, but he was a very skilled and sought-after therapist. I was having some issues about fear and leaving Houston, and he sniffed them out like a hound dog. This man sat me down and very kindly probed and probed until we discovered that it was my passive aggressive , fearful attitude that was keeping me from walking in obedience. It was a double whammy for me, because I'm also a people pleaser. I'll get around saying what I mean because I don't want the person to not like me. That's more cowardice.
I am also very susceptible to the passive aggressive person, because I'm a people pleaser. Passive aggressive people used to be able to do a serious number on me. Man, I mean it. But in the end, I learned that the way to disarm the passive aggressive person (even if they are doing it and don't know it) is a direct, head-on confrontation. It is the equivalent of punching the bully back, in a good way. At that point, the passive aggressive person has two options: They either adapt, and move on into a greater friendship, or they throw up smoke screens and never admit to being offended or affected. But as for you, you are free. You've done what the Lord said, and you can dust-off your feet and move on. If that means move on from the friendship, then sadly, so be it.
The worst part about BEING passive aggressive is that you can never truly forgive if you never admit that you've been harmed or hurt. Your pride hides your hurt-ness and you tuck away the hurt and build up walls, so that no one will hurt you again. It is a dangerous defense mechanism that eventually fosters a bitterness that takes years to get over. And your body is an amazing healing mechanism. It will come out someday, just like an old splinter. It will come out, or it will rot your finger off.
I think if I would have grown up in a different family, I would have been helpless to fight my P.A. tendencies. My family is tremendously confrontational. If you tick them off, they really give you the what-for. If you are hurt, they get it out of you.
It is different for different people. We've all got those traits, I suppose, but Jesus tells us what to do about it: Confront. Walk into the fire. Walk into your fear.
There wasn't a passive aggressive bone in the Lord's body, and there shouldn't be in ours, I mean, YOURS, JOHN!