It used to be, if you wanted to say something to someone, you were forced to say it to their face--or at least over the phone. But with today's technology we can avoid some pretty precarious conversations--all by relying on text.
But if we're not careful, our fingers can really do some damage says relationship expert Stephanie Florman. Especially for people who have passive-aggressive tendencies to begin with.
"Texting gives the passive aggressive person a false sense of emotional safety," she says. "It eliminates contextual clues, so the person doing the texting never sees or hears the reaction from the person on the receiving end. In this way, the passive aggressive person continues to remain disconnected from the consequences of their punishing ways."
In addition to staying disconnected, a person can also use texting as a means to control the conversation, Florman says. By only acknowledging what they want to, when they want to, they can keep the conversation one sided. "The passive aggressive would rather push you away than look at themselves or risk letting you in and getting hurt," she explains. "Most importantly, it continues objectification by letting the person texting think of you as an inanimate object (an extension of their phone) instead of seeing you as a person with feelings."
So what do you do if you find yourself the victim of a passive-aggressive texter--whether it be a loved one or a friend? Stephanie has the following advice:
- Stop texting back: Save text messaging for unimportant conversations.
- Call them and share your intentions: Let them know that they are important to you, that the relationship is important to you and that you are reaching out to them to move beyond the conversation and improve the relationship.
- Take responsibility: Speak in first person using “I” instead of “you”, stick to your feelings and to their behavior. When you did this (their behavior) I felt this (your emotion).
- Protect your boundaries: You do not need explain why you want to have a healthy conversation with them.
- Let go of being right: The passive aggressive person needs to make you wrong. The best case scenario is that they let you share your feelings with them.
- Do not take their antics personally: The passive aggressive needs to keep you distant by shutting you out. They would rather push you away than look at themselves or risk letting you in and getting hurt.
- Be trustworthy: The passive aggressive person does not trust and so they will find ways to make you untrustworthy. Do your best to be as clear and consistent as possible.
- Bring it back to you: Passive aggressive people are attracted to people with a low self-esteem so take inspired action to boost your confidence