intentional inefficiency

Passive Aggressive Question Answerer


My friend Amy just filled me in on this perfectly passive aggressive website:  Have you heard of it?  I’d tell you about it, but it would ruin the laugh you’ll get by taking 2 minutes to check it out.  Suffice it to say we’ve probably all felt this way when faced with a person who finds it more convenient to bother us with their question than to just google it for themselves.  Enjoy!

Training on How to Manage Passive Aggressive Behavior


This November 18th, the New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports (NH CEBIS) will host a one-day training on The Angry Smile (see Workshops & Speaking Page for full details).

Do you live or work with someone who:

  • Denies or represses feelings of anger
  •  Withdraws and sulks
  • Sends hidden, coded and confusing messages when frustrated
  • Procrastinates or carries out tasks inefficiently
  • Is quietly manipulative and controlling
  • Makes endless promises to change
  • Creates a feeling in others of being on an emotional roller coater

This workshop takes an in-depth look at the roots of passive aggression, exploring the behavior at five distinct and (more…)

Backhanded Compliments and Sugarcoated Hostility: How to Recognize the 10 Common Passive Aggressive Phrases


Is there someone in your life who consistently makes you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster? Do you know a person who is friendly one day but sulks and withdraws the next? Does a family member or friend consistently procrastinate, postpone, stall, and shut down any emotionally-laden conversations? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are you may be interacting with a passive aggressive person. (more…)

What’s Your Anger Expression Style? Take this Quiz to Find Out


Is your child the type to come right out and tell you when he is feeling angry? Does he stuff his anger inside? Perhaps he is most likely to express his feelings in sneaky ways. Or maybe, when he is mad, the whole world knows about it—and better step aside! Whatever your child’s anger style, chances are he has developed it over the years and modeled it after…gulp…much-loved family members.

Take this Anger Styles Quiz to learn about how anger is articulated in your family: (more…)

3 Ways that Kids’ Anger Bites Back


How many of you were told as a child, “Don’t be mad at your friend. She was just kidding,” or even “It’s not nice to be angry with your parents?” How many of you–gulp–have even uttered messages like these to your own children? Don’t worry; my hand is raised also. Despite the fact that I just wrote a book about helping kids accept and manage angry feelings, sometimes these knee-jerk responses just fly out of my mouth–as they do everyone else’s.

Are they the worst things to say to a child? Well, having worked for several years with abused children, I can definitively say (more…)

>Intentional Inefficiency at Chore Time


>So, we have this repetitive conversation at our house that goes something like this:

Children:  Can we get a dog?  We really want a pug.

Parents:  We can get a dog when you girls show us that you are ready to take care of one.  First, you have to show us that you can feed the kitties everyday withour needing 100 reminders.

Children:  But Moooooooooooom!  But Daaaaaaaaaaaad!  We doooooooooooo.

Parents: (Laugh.  Exchange knowing glances.)

Last night, my husband was on his 95th reminder to our older daughter to feed the kittens.  Following her 75th, “I’ll do it in a minute” (she simply pretended not to hear the first 20 requests, as she kept her eyes glued to her lady Gaga video on the computer screen), she all of a sudden got indignant:

Fine.  I’ll do it right away.  I don’t know why you have to be so impatient about it, Dad!”

She runs to the kitty dishes.  We hear the pouring of the food.  A lot of pouring, in fact.  She runs back to the computer with an angry smile on her face and resumes her dry-eyed screen stare.

My husband and I check out the kitty bowls.  Oh, she fed them alright.  The food dish overflowed with food.  The water dish overflowed with instantly-soggy food.  The mat underneath was covered in kibble.  The cats were indeed fed.  This ought to last ’em for a month!

For those counting the levels of passive aggressive behavior and keeping score, that’s 75 incidents of temporary compliance and 1 heaping serving of intentional inefficiency for my passive aggressive cat feeder.

A designer clothes boutique has partnered with me to help bring articles about passive aggressive behavior, parenting, bullying, and anger-expression styles to their community.  The next time you are in the market for trendy baby clothing, including unique headbands, baby hats, and fashion-forward pettiskirts and tutus for little ones, please check them out

>Filling Out School Forms: The Oldest Husband vs. Wife Passive Aggressive Trick in the Book on ABC’s The Middle


>It’s season premiere week for the TV networks and what makes for better, more hilariously relatable comedy than passive aggression between spouses?  Check out this clip from ABC’s The Middle as Frankie guilts Mike into filling out school forms, when all he really wants to do is go to sleep.  Instead of getting mad or refusing to help, Mike uses the oldest passive aggressive trick in the book–Intentional Inefficiency–to get out of the chore.

My Baby Clothes Boutique is partnering with me to provide articles, such as this one, to parents and professionals. Check them out whenever you need to find that perfect outfit for your little one. They have it all: adorable baby headbands, cute baby shoes, trendy baby hats, and everything in between!

>Bedtime Wars


>I have not yet been blessed with one of those “sleeper-type” babies. Sleep training, shmeep training; when my daughters were infants, I tried everything the books said, the neighbors said, my mom said, my friends said. My head was spinning with advice, but my brain was not getting any rest, as both of my girls instinctively knew how to sleep in my arms and wake the moment they were put down. “Let them cry it out,” you say? “Relentless!” I answer you.

The good news is, I made it! They are now ages 7 and 4, and except for the typical, “I’m not tired” protests at bedtime, they find their own way to slumber these days and are even sampling the fine art of sleeping in. No, this Passive Aggressive Diary post won’t actually be about sleep, but rather the epic (and different) ways my husband and I went about approaching our older daughter’s bedtime routine, back in her baby days.

When Hannah was 19 months old, I had grown weary of spending an hour (plus!) each night rocking her to sleep, so my New Year’s resolution that year was to get a more reasonable bedtime routine going. I put her to bed every night for six weeks and got our family into a new groove: three books, a loving song, and in-the-crib—all in under 20 minutes. My husband was totally down with the whole thing until the night in late February when I asked him if he could follow the simple routine and put Hannah to bed.

He looked me in the eye, asked in detail about the number of books and timing of the routine, and then agreed to my request.

About a half hour went by (not that I was watching the clock or anything), when I heard uproarious laughter from upstairs. I felt a stab of impatience, but then chided myself for being so strict on the time, thinking sweetly, “How nice that they are enjoying their time together.”

Five minutes later, loud music began: Dan Zanes on full volume! I could hear Hannah’s bed springs squeaking. It was a Dance Party! Any “isn’t that sweet” thoughts drained from my head (probably through the steam seeping out of my ears.)

At the 50-minute mark, I heard dresser drawers slamming. I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I went upstairs and opened Hannah’s bedroom door. She was out of her fleece jammies and decked out in her stripy bathing suit, Dora sunglasses, and a pair of brand new hot pink water shoes. It was a BEACH dance party…in February…at 9:48pm…

My heart melted a little when Hannah ran up to me with her huge wide-awake smile and shouted, “Bedtime so fun!”

But it froze up again when Richard came downstairs 35 minutes later (that’s an hour and a half later, for those of you (like me) who are counting) and met my stony glare with feigned shock, “What? We were just having some fun!”

Five years of decent night sleeps later, the situation that February evening is now all clear; Richard didn’t want to be bothered with bedtime routines. Rather than tell me this fact and risk an argument over sharing childcare responsibilities, he chose a passive aggressive response to the situation.  He verbally agreed to the task, but carried it out in such a way that he knew would excuse him from having to repeat it for quite some time.  Classic intentional inefficiency.

The cunning of his personal choice was unmistakable: when I argued with his stated intention of having fun with his daughter, I got to star in the coveted roles of “uptight, no-fun mother” and the always delightful-to-be-around “controlling wife.” My husband’s strategy in the situation was a winning one for both he and our daughter; Hannah thought her Daddy was the coolest in the world and Richard was not called upon to help with this evening responsibility for months.

At least I got a good story for my book!
The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces

>A Little Help Here?


>Intentional Inefficiency is our term for the type of passive aggressive behavior that occurs when a person complies with a given request, but carries it out in an unacceptable manner. The frustrated requestor usually ends up doing the task himself and refrains from asking the person to do it again in the future…which suits the passive aggressive person just perfectly!

This great example of intentional inefficiency was posted on Passive Aggressive by “anonymous” on 9/16/09:

Frequently when I ask my boyfriend to help out cooking, which he absolutely hates, I find that he, all the sudden, loses his ability to function properly on his own. He moves at about the pace of a snail. He claims that he does not know what he’s doing and that he never learned how to cook. I therefore explain to him exactly how he is supposed to do that particular task. He then proceeds to act extremely clueless, like I’m explaining how to do brain surgery. Then I even show him. Once I’ve shown him the proper way to cut the fat off of a piece of chicken, he annoyingly, and EXTREMELY slowly, proceeds to do so making sure to do it in a way unlike that which I just showed him. He does so because he knows that once I finish preparing everything else, I will become annoyed with his lack of production and take over the task myself.

Do you have examples of intentional efficiency or other passive aggressive behavior in your relationship? Please post them here!

Go to Top