Freeing Yourself From The Passive-Aggressive Energy Suckers

Have you ever been having a lovely day and you find yourself doing something that you suddenly find yourself becoming more and more resentful for doing?


It is not necessarily the task but how it became your task.


It was “assigned” by the Passive-Aggressive Energy Sucker.


You know the type, the one that will come up and ask you in a very sweet way if you would mind doing something because for some reason or another they “can’t” or just need you to because, well, gee, you are just the best….


Yeah, right.


They don’t want to or they are expecting you to knowing that you are a good person and won’t refuse because you are too nice.  You especially wont refuse if they gee, golly, gosh just are so nice about it and are quite surprised or even slightly wounded if you even hint that you won’t.  You’re too much of a giver, a team player to ever turn anyone down.


And if you even think about saying no, they can twist it all around so then you feel like a complete ass if you say no.


I guess it really isn’t that big of a deal, it is only this one little thing, it is just this one time….all the self-given excuses to make us join their side in talking ourselves into taking on their stuff.


Don’t be fooled by their sweet exterior – they are not sweet.  They are sucking the life out of you with a smile.


They appear in many different forms in your personal and professional life.  The husband that continually drops little one liners about something that hasn’t been done (that he is more than capable of doing himself but wants you to do) that seem insignificant until about the 15th one, they it is just damn annoying – and you end up doing it.


The girlfriend that withdrawals or silently pouts because she has decided to change the rules of the relationship and you are just supposed to be okay with it and wait around until she decides to get back on board.  So you go along with it because you like her and even though you hate to fly you decide to wait in the concourse with all the impatient travelers.


The boss that comes across apologetic for being incompetent in being able to work on a certain project and desperately needs you to do it because, well, you are just the best employee in the whole world and the whole place would collapse without you.


The client that have paid in advance and maybe a bit more because they are so excited to work with you and then upon completion of the job continue to come back and use their “generosity” to make you feel bad in not doing just one more thing.


The coworker that you helped out in a pinch that now just doesn’t understand why you wont do this for them every time, I mean it is so easy for you and doesn’t take you any time at all and it would take them a whole day just to figure out the system.


The parent that has decided that your sibling needs something so much more than you do at this time even though it was promised to you, because, well you understand and you are at such a better place and you want to support your sibling anyway don’t you?


These energy suckers are crafty and their end result is to get what they want no matter if it causes you great distress.  Bottom line is they don’t care; they want what they want and have no guilt what-so-ever in using you to get it.  Even going so far as to making you feel bad if you don’t go along with it.  They are being selfish.  They are sucking the happy out of you.  They must be stopped.


Anger or straight out refusal does not work with them.  You have to beat them with a smile and a plan.


For the husband – do your own damn laundry.  If I am not mistaken the washer and dryer were invented by men so I know damn well that a man knows how to operate them.  And if you end up washing reds with whites and have a new pink wardrobe – well, live and learn; don’t do that again.  But they are a smart guy, you know they will get it next time.  I had a rule in my house, when each of the boys turned 13 they were then responsible for doing their own laundry.  It was amazing how their dirty cloths pile decreased dramatically and they were magically able to find clean socks.


For the girlfriend – enjoy that plane ride sister, you are going to hop in the car and take the scenic route.  You are going to two different destinations anyway, why ruin the trip?  Don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t respect you enough to hear that you hate to fly.  There is another girl out there that not only will join you on the car ride, she’ll pack a picnic.


For the boss – you would love to help with this, as long as they know that this means you will be putting off all the other priorities of the day and those deadlines will not be met – so it is a choice of what gets done today.  It is amazing when ownership shifts back to them the priorities are re-instated.


For the client – you would love to continue to provide services, just let me send you a new contract for additional services as our original contract has been complete.   All of a sudden they don’t have as many needs if they have to pay for it.


For the co-worker –as your plate is so full and as much as you really want to help and do this for them why don’t you instead teach them the program so that way they will be able to do it themselves and probably even better than you!  Watch them run on that one because heaven forbid they actually take steps to learn the damn program themselves.  But the ownership is back on them.


For the parent – you are sure that your sibling would really like those tickets to the game, you know you have really been looking forward to it for a month now since the parent promised them to you; after all you thought they were giving them to you because they were proud of you for being in a good place.


It is okay to say no.  It does not mean that you are ungrateful, unkind or selfish – no matter how they try to spin it.  It means you respect yourself and your limits.  By allowing others to manipulate you into being or doing something that you do not want to you are actually showing yourself disrespect.  And if you do not respect yourself then no one else will.


I worked with a girl once that when her boss tried the passive aggressive on her she flatly said no, she was going to lunch because it was important to her to go workout and grab a healthy snack every day so that she could remain at her best through the day.  Then she walked out.


Oh my goodness, we all sat there with our mouths open horrified at such behavior.  But he never tried that trick on her again and we all looked at her with admiration for standing up for herself.


Sometimes it is hard to say no, we want someone to like us or respect us.  But you have to look at their motives.  If they are self-centered I hate to tell you but no matter what you do they won’t respect you.  So stop beating your head against that wall.


Be okay with saying no and if the continual pouts and attempts at making you feel bad continue don’t back down.  Stick to your guns.  If need be use their own tactics.


When that energy sucker continues to whine look at them with mild confusion and a sweet smile and simply state in your nicest gentle mildly surprised voice (and adopt to the situation):


“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were still so upset about this.” They will deny that they are upset – don’t let them get control of the conversation, just keep going with:


“Now you know I really wanted to help but honestly I just can’t.” They may try to interrupt here again – stay strong, keep going:


“…and if there were any way that I could you more than anyone know that I would, that’s why we get along so well, because we respect each other so much – I respect you enough to realize you need help and offered alternatives and you respect me enough to know if I say I can’t then I really, truly can not.”


Now who is going to look like an ass by insisting that you help?  Are they really going to prove that they don’t respect you?  And if they do have the gumption to say a ‘Yeah, but…” then you can re-iterate this point: “So you really don’t respect me…”


It is time to put those uncomfortable shoes back on the feet where they belong.


Yes, it may seem like a lot of work and a game; but hey, all is fair in love, war and protecting your happy.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

Do As I Say Not As I Do – It’s Not Going Away

Oh my did I grow up hearing that phrase, and the “Because I said so.” I accepted it as law; of course, with my father you did not question the rules. You knew better. My son’s generation is much different. Maybe it was something in the garden hose water that we all drank that affected their genes, but they seem to think they purpose in life is to question every rule and it is their right to demand an answer. They also believe an appropriate response to “do as I say not as I do” or “because I said so” is “but that’s not fair”. Tough cookies you silly little things, life isn’t fair.

They are going to have a rude awakening when they go out into the real world and get a job. Because the working world is based upon many things including the two golden rules of “Do as I say, not as I do” and “Because I said so”. Sometimes it is disguised as “This is the way it has always been done.” For some strange reason I am finding that many people are starting to turn into our children and saying, “That’s not fair”. Get over it.

I went to the After Hours Networking event held by the Fishers Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday – wonderful event by the way, and I was talking to a friend who is an advisor with a major insurance agency. We were talking about how his assistant is trying to get him to use her system with his calendar. He is a write it down kind of guy, she is an electronic kind of girl. When he was telling me about their little battles I told him that it was my opinion that her job was to come in every morning and before close of business, take his calendar and enter anything new into her system and visa versa.

At the risk of sounding insensitive: let’s face it, her job is dependent upon his, she needs to make his life easier so it makes her life easier and more profitable. She is in a supporting position therefore she needs to adapt her systems to better support the bread winner in the work relationship.

I had a managing director that was stuck in his ways, sure there were things that he could have changed that would have made my life easier but trust me, this guy was NOT going to do it. Period. He was my boss, he drove the revenues for office and my job was to drive the operations. My job was to make his life easier. There were certain things that I had to adjust to which accomplished this feat. Were some a pain in my butt, yes! However a bigger pain in my butt would have been an unhappy managing director. This may offend some but I knew my place and I accepted it. I knew what my role was and we joked in the office that I was his perfect work-wife but would have killed him as a home-wife.

Others wanted to grumble and grip and try to force him to change and they were never happy in their positions, and they earned no respect from him or others in the office. Oh he was full of the do as I say not as I do and because I said so without coming out and saying those things, but having grown up this way I accepted it. Knowing the rules of the working relationship served me well. He respected me for the job I did and appreciated that I was supportive and made making his life easier a priority. The fact that I was damn good at it helped too.

Those that wanted him to change his ways to adjust to make their life easier were almost appalled at the acceptance I showed in accepting my role. However it served me well, when the big dogs would come into town he was the first to tell them that he was the face of the office but I really ran it and when the company was bought out that man made it a priority to make sure I was taken care of in a new position. There is nothing wrong with the golden rules.

When you accept a position you accept it with all the conditions it comes with like it or not, and if you don’t like it then don’t take the job. Pretty simple. Earn your way to a position where you can enjoy the rules but do not expect to come in at the lower rung and think the company is going to bend to you – that is unrealistic and quite frankly at that level you are not all that and the bag of chips.

It is time for our kids and some of us to do a reality check – are we demanding more than we have earned? If so we better get over it quick or we will find ourselves in one of two spots: unemployed or miserable (or both). There is a hierarchy, there is an order of things and there are unwritten rules. As parents we need to re-install these rules to our children because it will help them when they go into the working world.

I loved that position and providing the supporting role to my managing director, it gave me a sense of security in knowing the rules and a great sense of accomplishment in being able to perform my role very, very well. There were parts that I hated, no doubt. But life is give and take.

If you are unhappy in your current position and take a cold hard look at what you do, what is your role and what are your expectations. When you think things are not fair or should change, are your reasons purely selfish? What do you like about what you do and what are you good at? Here’s another radical thought, sit down and talk to those you support and ask them what they need; how can you make their life easier. You might just be amazed at the response not only in their suggestions but also in the fact that they will see you care about your job. This will make a huge difference to them and honestly to you.

If you get so frustrated about having to follow the golden rules at work, relax, you can always impose them at home!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Transition Strategist
Career Polish, Inc.