How many times have we run into situations and people who are outwardly nice but over time have an insidious effect on us and our lives. Insidious as in – proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. These are people who do not want to address the issue at hand and only want to buy time or basically tire the other party down into submission, into their way or simply dissuade others from living their lives fully.
So how does one recognize this “passive resistance” behavior and respond to it? Is it possible to save the relationship and strengthen it when such behavior is the predominant way of relating? Is it possible to minimize damage to self and also not loose one’s composure in such situations?
Signs of passive resistance
Passive resistance is not only about love relationships – I have seen it and encountered it in business and all areas of life but the signs and the way to deal with it is the same in all spheres of our lives.
First and foremost we have to understand that such behavior is being demonstrated. How does one know? Here are some signs which indicate that passive resistance is at play. While no single one is a sure indicator – existence of multiple of them is:
- you are the only one raising the issue and the other party responds only when you have reached the point of frustration
- the other party’s response is the bare minimum they have to do to pacify you for that moment
- there is no proactive attempt from their side “to understand”
- they are concerned about niceness, politeness and civility more than actually solving the issue – as that is a tool to get away without actually doing anything or at least to buy time
- they constantly remind you of your responsibility and their right
- they do not spend effort on their responsibilities and your rights
- they take inordinate time to take any steps and always have excuses for the delays
Be clear of your goals and position
Before embarking on being assertive it’s important to get our own clarity on the situation. Our clarity has many aspects to it such as:
- visualize and articulate to yourself in detail how you want the end scenario to be – your positive and best intention for the outcome
- reflect on our own expectations from the other party
- be clear on what you are willing to do from your side and what areas are non-negotiable
- get a sense of urgency of the situation and what pace you would like for resolution
- deliberate on “what you will do” if discussions fail and build the mental fortitude to act if need be
Manage to a better outcome
In a passive resistance situation, non-cooperation from other party may be a de facto mode – yet it is important to make an effort to understand what others want. Maybe you will learn something that may change your position or make your communication better. Here are the broad steps to follow:
- First connect – So first connect and see if you can understand their goals in the situation. Even if their goals are conflicting or something you cannot help with – listening will always make things better. Also note not to indulge in your mental stories about how they are.
- Best for both – express your willingness to work towards best possible outcome for both
- Solicit Ideas – give a chance for other party to offer ideas proactively
- State your position – clearly state your expectations including the action you would take if certain things are not acted upon within a certain time frame
- Maintain your emotional balance – when we are disturbed, we show the other party how upset we are and that we are not prepared to take tough action. When we are calm and detached from the outcome we show our willingness to act
- Do not buy stories – Act – a party who does not act when needed is weakening their position and encouraging being taken for granted.
Passive resistance is an insidious force that if not handled creates devastating effects. It is important that we see it for what it is and manage it proactively to have a positive life around us.