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"passive aggressive behavior" vs "passive resistance" - how do they differ?

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Showing 1-25 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 19, 2012 3:51:28 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 3:54:30 PM PST
'probabilist says:
I don't understand the term "passive aggressive," and I see it used in posts here occasionally, applied to other posters as a label.

How does the behavior described as "passive aggressive" differ from that described as "passive resistance"?

Does it all depend on "whose ox is being gored"? (You're resisting me today, so I see you as passive-aggressive today; I was resisting him yesterday, and I see myself as having been a passive resister then...)

Are there cases where passive resistance to bullying is mislabeled as passive-aggressive behavior?

It seems meaningful to me that the term "passive-aggressive behavior" was coined during World War II to describe soldiers who resisted compliance with military discipline. Is it nothing more than a convenient label for those who say they're in charge to paste on those who think otherwise?

Your thoughts?




Posted on Nov 19, 2012 3:59:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 3:59:56 PM PST
"Passive-agressive" refers to behavior whose *intent* is to attack a person, a position, a thing, etc., but to do so using wording such that the attacker can later claim innocence, and that a *literal* interpretation does not contain an attack... despite the fact that an attack was exactly what they intended.

It's very real, and very dishonest, not to mention cowardly and irritating.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 4:19:36 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 2, 2012 12:17:04 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 4:34:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 4:35:05 PM PST
'probabilist says:
Thanks, Michael.

> behavior whose *intent* is to attack

How can I infer another person's intent, in order to distinguish between passive-aggressive behavior and passive resistance?



In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 4:52:47 PM PST
"How can I infer another person's intent, in order to distinguish between passive-aggressive behavior and passive resistance?"

You can't always... you evaluate their facial expressions, vocal tone, body language, etc.

But, the difficulty in distinguishing which is being exhibited does not somehow cast the existence of passive aggression into doubt.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 5:10:11 PM PST
'probabilist says:


Posted on Nov 21, 2012 5:05:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 5:06:31 PM PST
Could be just plain manipulation without the actual attack, when the intent to attack may be understated threat.

She says, "wouldn't you like to do [...] for me" without saying the (or else!) Passive aggressive suggestion doesn't have to be like Lucy Van Pelt's fist full of "five-good-reasons" why you ought to do "Maybe you should [...]", but it might.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 5:50:35 PM PST
Astrocat says:
Michael, that's a very good definition of "passive-agressive".

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 5:52:47 PM PST
A classic female version of passive agressive is an angry woman crying to get her way.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 5:54:56 PM PST
Passive resistance: like that bit in the movie "Gandhi" where the Indians line up to get clobberred by the British.

Passive-aggressive: You don't know what passive-aggressive is? Man, do I feel sorry for you. Maybe God will show you the truth of this topic some day before it's too late. I'll pray for you.

See? Two totally different things.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 6:23:02 PM PST
Songbird says:
Funny, I started a Facebook thread asking for favorite passive-aggressive phrases that we hear. An example of passive-aggressive behavior is an indirect insult meant to anger or confuse someone. Or insincere resentful comments that are hard to decipher. Or an action meant to hurt or offend but pretending it's not. Like, "I'm sorry you feel hurt by what I said" - aka, I didn't do anything wrong, don't know why you're so sensitive.

I think it's akin to gaslighting.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 6:37:57 PM PST
I haven't heard of this before, but gaslighting is like passive-aggressiveness cranked up to 11.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 6:41:53 PM PST
jpl says:
"passive aggressive behavior" vs "passive resistance" - how do they differ?

jpl: My take of "passive aggressive" is giving in while hating to do so. One does what one does with hate.

"Passive resistance" would be a monk immolating himself to decry the war.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 6:42:45 PM PST
Songbird says:
Exactly! Very creepy.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 7:40:48 PM PST
Lots of good discussion of "passive aggressive" (very nice definition by Michael A).

But not much on "passive resistance", so here goes.

First off, it must be in resistance *to* something, typically laws (only whites at the lunch counter) or behaviors. It's not simply protest, unless the act of protesting itself is illegal or repressed (so the monk self-immolation perhaps doesn't fall under the rubric).

Second, the "passive" is on the part of the resister. Although violence and force is often met, it doesn't have to be. But the resister has to eschew violence in response.

Recently, passive resistance was practiced by Gandhi (the person) in South Africa and India, and adopted (and maybe formalized) by King.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 6:55:55 AM PST
Vicki says:
Dear probabilist,

Here is a list of some signs of passive/aggressive behavior, from the Mayo clinic:

* Resentment and opposition to the demands of others
* Complaining about feeling underappreciated or cheated
* Procrastination
* Stubbornness
* Inefficiency
* Memory lapses
* Sullenness
* Irritability
* Cynical or hostile attitude

I wonder if all of us can be a bit passive-aggressive sometimes, depending on the situation.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 5:23:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2012 5:40:38 AM PST
Cueca Solo -- A song from Sting called "They Dance Alone" is a passive resistance theme.

Posted on Jun 3, 2013 5:40:45 PM PDT
'probabilist says:

Posted on Apr 25, 2014 9:40:24 PM PDT
'probabilist says:

Posted on Apr 8, 2015 6:52:10 AM PDT
'probabilist says:

Posted on Feb 13, 2016 9:29:28 PM PST
'probabilist says:

Posted on Feb 13, 2016 10:12:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2016 10:24:08 PM PST
Active resistance = You want me to, but I won't comply. And if you use physical force, I will fight back. In some cases, I might even use pre-emptive sabotage, vandalism, or violence.

Passive resistance is honest, nonviolent noncompliance = You want me to, but I won't comply. Nor will I fight back physically; even if you use force first, I will stand my ground without attacking you..

Passive aggressive is dishonest or 'sham' compliance = You want me to and of course I am complying! However, I am not really very competent at this, my results may be a wee bit sloppy. Or, however because of x, y, and z this might take a wee bit longer than you expected (like the 12th of never) or be a wee bit more expensive. Or, however, just bevcause I'm doing it, don't expect any enthusiasm or cheerfulness on my part. There are often elements of snark or bullying involved.

ETA: Any post that includes the phrase 'just saying' is PROBABLY passive aggressive. So are those kindly Christians who reply to atheists here with "I'll pray for you". The literal meaning of that being -- they 'love' their neighbors and will ask their God to be nice to them and help them. The subtextual meaning of that being -- go away, you are bound for h**l, and that's what you deserve, you nasty atheist you!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2016 10:13:00 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 14, 2016 1:54:53 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2016 10:21:38 PM PST
'probabilist says:
Can passive aggressive behavior be a survival mechanism in a hostile environment?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2016 10:44:27 PM PST
Definitely. Have you read The Help?

There are many situations where the costs of obvious resistance (active or passive) are judged to be higher than the benefits. Here we have everything from the waiter who covertly spits on the rude diner's desert to Shindler's Nazi parties.

However, most passive-aggressive behavior occurs in less hostile environments for less important reasons. Often it is someone who wishes to appear nice or keep up an acceptable reputation while hiding ulterior motives, bad attitudes, and/or sneaky behavior. There is also a passive-aggressive personality, someone who keeps trying to secretly put-something-over on others.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  26
Initial post:  Nov 19, 2012
Latest post:  Feb 13, 2016

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