Now that I have your attention and you’re happily chanting phrases last heard on the yellow brick road, I want to say that I’m an animal lover. So this post title isn’t meant to make you think I’m against carnivores in the animal kingdom. But I am against the carnivores in your life who use their claws and fangs to make you feel inadequate, powerless, and doubt your abilities. Not only are they bullies, but they act as symbolic carnivores who eat away at how you perceive yourself.
Bullies can take different forms. Back in the day, Laura Ingalls Wilder encountered an open bully who wore a bonnet and petticoats. Nellie Olson openly made Laura and the other students at the school on the prairie feel awkward around her and go home fretting about their next encounter with her.
In modern day life, this type of bully can make a post on Facebook that others can see instead of privately handling a delicate situation. They can send text messages to you that make you feel small. They can refuse to follow the policies expected at work and make you look bad to the boss when you try to enforce or clarify them.
Then, there are the passive-aggressive bullies. Passive-aggressive bullies do things that at first glance, don’t appear to have hidden agendas. They often appear to be friendly gestures to on-lookers or even just normal interactions. For instance, have you ever had someone give you a smile, only to walk away a few moments later and realize they flashed their smile only for those who were looking on? Or maybe they gave you your favorite candy bar at work, only for you to realize they were just trying to make it look like to everyone else that things were great between you (when in fact, there is a silent war between you)?
Passive-aggressive behaviors not only includes those who smile to your face and then stab you in the back, but it also includes those who subtly hide their anger with you in what can appear on the surface to be normal behavior. Passive-aggressive behaviors are a powerful mind game and a form of emotional abuse. Some of the traits of passive-aggressive behavior include:
- Never expressing anger (or at least on the outside). They may have been taught as a child that anger was wrong. So instead of talking about it with you, they bottle it up and then subtly get you back by assigning crappy tasks to you or not replying back to an email.
- Never taking responsibility for their actions. There is no such thing as shared responsibility in their book. There is a source for whatever the problem is- and it’s never them! Often, they heap out punishment- sometimes in the form of silence.
- Never remembering. Your birthday will never be acknowledged. Neither will your accomplishments or the drink after work that you planned to get. Finally open up and share something important about your life? You may feel really hurt that they don't even acknowledge or remember it.
- Never having their words and their actions line up. Someone’s actions most of the time add up with their words. In passive-aggressive people, their actions speak louder than their soft-spoken, seemingly kind words.
- Never being a team. Passive-aggressive people rarely admit how much of an integral force you are in their lives. While they do rely on you to help them get the job done more than they really want to admit, they can often have a time delegating because they can’t trust others easily (gee- I wonder why).
- Always being a martyr. These individuals tend to think that no matter what happens to them at home, at work, or with friends, the world is out to get them. There is never a coincidence. There is never an accident or oversight. Anything that upsets them was carefully planned to their utter discomfort.
Take a moment to reflect on the bullies who may be in your life. Tomorrow’s post will discuss who to handle these issues.
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