WHAT PEOPLE SAY AND WHAT THEY MEAN
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.