WHAT PEO­PLE SAY AND WHAT THEY MEAN

Friday - - Behaviour -

What they say: ‘Yes, that job is next on my to-do list.’ What they mean: ‘Yes, that job is next on my to-do list – right af­ter I’ve fin­ished up on Face­book, fi­nalised brunch plans and taken an hour-and-10-minute lunch. Feel free to do said job your­self if it needs to be com­pleted quicker.’ The ex­pla­na­tion? Tak­ing an in­or­di­nate amount of time to com­plete a task is a way of try­ing to avoid be­ing given the same job again – with­out ac­tu­ally ask­ing, ‘Can I not be given this job again?’ What they say: ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know if you’d want a cof­fee. You weren’t around when I was mak­ing it.’ What they mean: ‘Ob­vi­ously I knew you’d want a cof­fee. You have one ev­ery day. It’s just I didn’t want to make you one. Be­cause I don’t like you.’ The ex­pla­na­tion? Ad­dress­ing any per­son­al­ity is­sues with a col­league or a boss may be deemed the ma­ture be­hav­iour of a well-rounded adult. Pas­sive-ag­gres­sives, how­ever, of­ten pre­fer to hint at such is­sues through the medium of morn­ing bev­er­ages. What they say: ‘I’ve or­gan­ised a taxi to the work so­cial but there’s not enough room. Meet us there?’ What they mean: “Don’t bother com­ing. The ex­pla­na­tion? Pas­sive-ag­gres­sives will iso­late the ob­ject of their ire while main­tain­ing a fa­cade of ci­vil­ity. If other col­leagues don’t step in, your work­place is prob­a­bly dys­func­tional. What they say: ‘I don’t know how you keep look­ing so fab­u­lous at your age.’ What they mean: ‘Burn! You’re old, aren’t you?’ The ex­pla­na­tion? The back-handed com­pli­ment de­signed to un­der­mine. See also: ‘Your chil­dren are lively’ (they’re mon­sters), and ‘I wish I was con­fi­dent enough to wear that’ (you look ridicu­lous). What they say: ‘That’s fine.’ What they mean: ‘That’s not fine – I’m go­ing to be fum­ing the rest of the day.’ The ex­pla­na­tion? Pas­sive ag­gres­sives avoid con­flict at all costs. Declar­ing some­thing is OK is a way of cut­ting down fur­ther dis­cus­sion so they can get busy stew­ing.

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