12 passive-aggressive phrases you should never use
John Rampton, Entrepreneur Mar. 17, 2017, 11:51 AM
Passive-aggressive behavior is frustrating for both parties involved. It’s unproductive and it makes you and others become less trusted in the workplace.
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.”
- ‘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.'”
- ‘If you really want to.’
This may appear to be accommodating at first, but don’t be fooled. Whenever you tell someone, or someone tells you, this phrase, you’re actually being noncommittal. It may sound as if you’re going along with the plan, but inside you’re not all that thrilled — but you just don’t know how to communicate those feelings, or you may thing that the other person will be mad.
- ‘Thanks in advance.’
I’m horrible at this one, and it’s something I’m working on each day. It’s another phrase that may appear innocent at first. But it pretty much means that you’re expecting them to do whatever it is you’re asking and they pretty much have to do it. This damages your relationship with this person.
- ‘I was surprised/confused/curious about …’
When you hear this or see the text you can be certain 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.”
- ‘I’m not mad.’
This one destroyed my relationship with my ex-wife. I never expressed how I truly felt. I’ve now learned to voice my opinions openly and be honest with my spouse. It’s the same in the workplace. Yes. This person is livid. They’re just not being honest with you. I find that whenever I use this phrase I don’t feel as if 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 just didn’t want to keep that discussion going. Yes this person is mad, and now you are too. It’s not helping.
- ‘So …’
How can a two-letter word pack such a punch? Because most of the time it’s followed by text that either is awkward or 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 haven’t responded yet. And that’s a problem when you honestly haven’t had a chance to get back to the person.
Or, it could be the beginning of an uncomfortable conversation; the person just does 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.
- ‘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’re at. In other words, this person knows he or she shouldn’t be asking you for this favor but will ask anyway. 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?”
- ‘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 wasn’t a joke at all. The person meant what was said but is backing away to cover up his or her true feelings. This is an especially damaging phrase when used in a relationship or (often) in front of other people, as a put-down.
- ‘Hope it’s worth it.’
This phrase should be rather obvious. The person you’re communicating with clearly doesn’t want you to do something but is aware that you will do so anyway. Instead of expressing concern, the person will leave with this passive-aggressive text and stew until it become a major issue. This person will also beg you to discuss it later so he or she can use the phrase again on you. It’s a shaming phrase.
- ‘Your thoughts?’
In most cases I find this a pretty harmless phrase. Asking for someone’s thoughts on dinner, etc. But this phrase can also be used a way to tell someone that he or she 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.
Your thoughts … on this article? What other phrases do you find yourself or others using that are passive-aggressive? I’m not mad, just tell me.
Read the original article on Entrepreneur. Copyright 2017.
more on passive aggressive behavior in this IMS blog