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5 passive-aggressive sentences you should never use again

5 passive-aggressive sentences you should never use again

By John Bowe/ Passive-aggressive behavior is not always intentional. As a speech and communication expert, I have found that people who have these tendencies often struggle with being honest about their emotions.

But when you send mixed messages by not being direct, issues and tensions can remain unresolved and people make assumptions about how you feel. It can even make people respect you less.

The most successful communicators get to the point and avoid these phrases that only serve to irritate the listener:

1. "I'll say it as a reminder..."

This phrase only camouflages your request and makes the other person think you're trying to annoy, blame or boss them around.

What to say instead: Be direct. If you need a quick turnaround, there's nothing wrong with saying, "Hey, I'm sorry to bother you again, but I need an answer."

2. "Don't take it for granted, but..."

This phrase almost always precedes something annoying or offensive.

The lazy and selfish logic behind it is that if you tell people in advance that you're going to be rude, it's okay to go ahead and do it. Wrong.

What to say instead: Legitimate criticism is necessary and even helpful, as long as you're not shy about it. Say, “Is this a good time to talk? There is something that is bothering me” or “I am worried about your performance. Let's talk about it.”

3. "I understood."

Sometimes, it's just another phrase for "Yeah, okay." But the sarcastic version means something else: "Shut up, I heard you" or "Leave me alone."

Sarcasm is the most obvious form of passive aggression, and perhaps the most hurtful.

What to say instead: Examine why you're upset. Then try saying, “I'm sorry if I seem upset. This task is difficult for me" or "I am stressed because I have a lot of work today".

4. "Hey, how's that assignment I left you going?"

Softening a request may seem polite, but it can also be a form of passive aggression. Think of other "softeners" like "Thank you in advance".

If you're asking for something like a boss or colleague, don't pretend you're a friend. It's good to be clear and say what you need and when.

What to say instead: Remind them of the deadline, then explain the consequences of being late: "I really need this by tomorrow or the customer will be very upset."

5. "If this is what you want to do..."

This phrase implies disapproval. Other signals of passive aggressive judgment include “Just to keep that in mind for next time...”

What to say instead: People don't usually make decisions to upset you. If you don't agree, say 'I disagree because...'.