Tips From The Top

“I thought you could take a joke” – passive aggressive behavior

Today in a networking meeting, a fellow member turned to me when something that is considered “taboo” in our networking group was raised (“hustling” someone for business) and “kidded” me about doing it.

It surprised and hurt me.

Though I am an MLM professional, this networking group, BNI, does not allow you to talk about the opportunity portion of your business during the meeting. I am assiduous about following this rule. The subject came up, because the group is considering another network marketing professional from a company that is a lot more aggressive about going after people about the opportunity – and they noted that this is Not Okay during our infomercials.

I “stewed” on what had been said for the rest of the meeting. Oh sure. I know that he was “only kidding.” I knew that if I said something, that he would be “upset” that I “can’t take a joke.” But as my father drilled into me as a kid, anything you joke about always has a kernel of truth in it. For this reason, sarcasm, or joking like that which was done to me today, were taboo in our household. My father always said that what you joke about is what you’re thinking about it, and it’s often better left in your head.

I thought about sending the guy an email, but realized that it’s just never good to put in writing something you need to say in person. So I buttonholed him afterwards, and he did react as I’d expected. But I’m glad I talked about it, even though I’m fairly sure that it didn’t make an impression. Except perhaps for him to share to 50 of my business acquaintances that “Gee, she can’t take a joke.” I hope this won’t happen, but I fear it might.

There is a great article from Psychology Today that goes into this in more detail, and I think it’s really worth a read. I’m linking it HERE. It is about ten common passive-aggressive phrases. In case you don’t have time to read the whole article (which I would strongly recommend), here are those phrases. Take a look – and think before using.

1.  “I’m not mad.”
2. “Fine” or “Whatever.”
3. “I’m coming”
4. “I didn’t know you meant Now.”
5. “You just want everything to be perfect.”
6. “I thought you knew.”
7. “Sure, I’d be happy to.”
8. “You’ve done so well for someone with your {education level}” (fill in the {…}) – eg the backhanded compliment (“Hey some men love heavy women”)
9. “I was only joking.” (followed up by “I thought you could take a joke”)
10. “Why are you getting so upset?”

Sound familiar at all? Take a look at the Psychology Today article. And as my dad said – remember, sometimes some things are better left inside your head.