Since the publication of The Angry Smile, I’ve been a collector of sorts–of examples of the way we all use passive aggression in our daily lives.  It’s pure entertainment when I see sugarcoated hostility on reality TV shows–the Real Housevives of New Jersey comes immediately to mind–and it’s funny when my friends and neighbors share examples of the compliant defiance of their children and spouses.  It’s a bit disturbing, on the other hand, when the passive aggressive behavior comes straight from the mouths of my darling daughters…

A sampling of this weekend’s passive aggressive phrases:

  • “No offense, but…” 

And you know you are about to be completely insulted…but can ascribe no ill-intentions to the insulter because, as she forewarned, she meant no offense.

  • “Just sayin…”

A tagline used in a thinly veiled attempt to absolve herself from blame about the horrid thing she just muttered to her sister.

  • Can’t you take a joke?” 

Straight from the girl bullying playbook, this faux-innocent question is used to justify hidden aggression and mask unkind intentions.

  • “I feel really sorry for my sister because her balloon broke and I still have mine.” 

When confronted, the excuse is, “What?  I said I felt sorry for her!”  When pressed, the acknowledgement is, “Yes, I was mad that she took my seat on the sofa, so I said that to make her feel bad.”


Will you add to my collection?  What are the passive aggressive phrases commonly–“innocently”–uttered in your household?