I have a confession to make. I love old thriller movies where the villain slowly poisons some unsuspecting victim. And of course in movies of yesteryear, the villain always gets discovered. The victim is saved from certain death right at the last minute by the movie’s hero. Such heroes were often played by actors like Cary Grant or Gregory Peck.
A slow and deliberate process of poisoning someone in real life is anything but entertaining. And it can actually take on multiple forms…It occurs to me that a person that acts in a passive aggressive manner in actuality is poisoning their most important relationships slowly but surely.
Passive aggressive behavior is just that…it’s passive. It takes on such forms as pouting, ignoring, refusing to speak when spoken to, procrastinating on a task, subtle verbal jabs, and disguising criticism with praise. When you ask a person drawn to passive aggressive behavior what is wrong, the standard answer is…”nothing.” And of course the response is commonly expressed in a calm, but self-righteous tone.
If your aggressive behavior surfaces in the form of a physical assault, you can be charged with a criminal offense. If your aggressive behavior takes on one of many passive forms, it’s unlikely that a crime has occurred. However, you passive choice is the equivalent of pouring arsenic poison on the relationship.
Marriages are negatively affected. Friendships are destroyed. Relationships in an extended family context are harmed beyond repair. Such damage is a result of the corrosive impact of being passive aggressive.
I am guessing there is some morbid satisfaction that’s gleaned from ignoring someone’s overture at communication. “I won’t respond to his email”. “I will delete her text message without replying.” “I will show him!” “That will get her!” “I won’t invite her to the family gathering.” “I will fail to call him about the hunting trip.” Such gestures are supposed to make you feel better about yourself, but they end up being poisonous for you and the person you are targeting.
I recall a man in church that used to get his jabs in on the leaders by making comments in a public prayer that could be taken several ways, but everyone knew what he likely meant. It was terribly destructive in particular for his own life of faith. He slowly poisoned his heart.
I learned from the old movies that poisoning someone often takes time. It’s a slow and tedious process. But if you are consistent, you will get the job done eventually. The results will ultimately be fatal. If you are choosing to be passively aggressive today, you will eventually get the job done. You will destroy that relationship. Oh and by the way…you will most certainly poison your own heart in the process. Think twice before you pout and ignore and jab…It’s may not be a crime, but nevertheless it is terribly hurtful.