A few years back I did a hint of psychology classes in which the teacher/psychologist explained that human beings have 4 main different behavioural types: aggressive, passive, passive aggressive and assertive.
In an ideal society everyone should be assertive, unfortunately under this aspect, this is one of the rare times you will hear me say that Sweden is not an ideal society. This is the Mecca of passive aggressiveness to a point in which I might be experiencing a mild form of ‘culture shock’. In Italy and southern Europe in general people tend to be very open and if they have an issue with you they will let you know, you might have a confrontation, everything that needs to be said comes out and once that’s done you either work things out or go your separate ways. Everything is clear cut, no misunderstandings, no repressed tension.
In the north of Europe however, things don’t work this way.
What is the point of being ‘passive aggressive’? That’s a really good question to which I struggle to find an answer. I guess it’s in Swede’s nature to avoid confrontation at all costs so being aggressive isn’t an option yet they don’t want to be completely passive either. So passive-aggressive is the middle ground, perfect solution for the Swedish way of going about life. Another useful aspect of passive-aggression is that when you accuse someone of behaving that way they can deny it, making you look like a paranoid psycho.
In fact, the key to passive aggressiveness is to be subtle. Sometimes it is so subtle that it can be difficult to perceive.
Most important thing to remember when dealing with passive aggressive people is never to start letting it affect you. If not it becomes a downward spiral in which you start thinking everyone has got it in for you even if they are just in a bad mood for other reasons or maybe they didn’t say hello to you because they genuinely didn’t see you.
I have learnt to be passive-aggressive and I use it sometimes to prove points and make people have a taste of their own medicine. The best way to deal with a passive aggressive is with overwhelming kindness bordering sarcasm; massive (fake) smiles, lots of super duper sweet words (Ned Flanders style), high pitched voice and vaguely camp attitude. You will see them slowly burning inside , guaranteed (although they will never admit to it).
One day people will realise how pointless being passive aggressive really is and hopefully will find alternative solutions to dealing with disputes.