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					                                                     what they do not want to say verbally. Rather      Is it in the Bible?                                 seven more specific criteria. The following are
What Missionaries Ought to                           than expressing their opposition in words,                                                             even more specific passive-aggressive actions.
  Know about Passive-                                they use procrastination, forgetfulness, and                 Most people look at the lost (prodigal)   • Deliberate inefficiency, dawdling, laziness,
                                                     inefficiency to avoid complying with the           son who returned to his father as the focus of          inflexibility, ignoring of others
  Aggressive Behavior                                request.                                           that story in Luke 15. However, his older           • Procrastination, stubbornness, resisting
                                                              Along with the passive resistance         brother also had major problems. Even                   suggestions, disregarding instructions
         Suppose this happened to a                  these people have a pattern of negative            though he is not labeled as “passive-               • Pretending forgetfulness, putting things on
missionary. His committee report to the field        attitudes. They may complain about feeling         aggressive,” the older son meets six of the             the “back burner,” making excuses
director is due this afternoon, and he still has     cheated, unappreciated, and misunderstood as       seven DSM-IV criteria in just three short           • Losing things, discovering things too late,
not received John’s data that was due a week         they blame their failures on others. They may      verses.                                             • Sullenness, hostility, anger,
ago. He wonders what John’s excuse will be           be sullen, irritable, cynical, and                 • Resisted carrying out routine social tasks:           argumentativeness
this time—last time he forgot when it was            argumentative. Some professionals have                  he refused to go to his brother’s party (v.    • Complaining, resentment, feeling
due, the time before that he had not followed        characterized passive-aggressive behavior as            28).                                               unappreciated, irritableness, cynicism
instructions so the data was useless, the time       “hostile cooperation,” “angry kindness,” or        • Complained of being unappreciated by              • Blaming others, feeling cheated
before that… When John gets it in, he will           “covert assertiveness.” This behavior appears           others: his father never gave him a party      • Overt sabotage, sulking
probably complain about how no one                   most often in the workplace and in social               (v. 29).                                       • Working poorly or slowly, being tardy or
appreciates what he does, or that other people       situations, but it may also occur in marriage
                                                                                                        • Was sullen and argumentative: he argued               absent
don’t have to gather data, or that… He will          and/or family situations.
                                                                                                             with his father (v. 29).                       • Repeatedly apologizing, asking
probably come in angry and try to start an
argument—then return tomorrow to say that                                                               • Criticized and scorned authority: he                  forgiveness and promising to do better next
                                                     Is it a psychological disorder?                         criticized his father’s party for the              time—but not really changing
he is sorry, ask forgiveness, and promise to do
better next time.                                                                                            squandering son (v. 30).                                The list can go on and on. Whether
                                                               For many years both the World Health     • Expressed envy and resentment toward              they are conscious of it or not, the goal is to do
         The missionary and John have served         Organization (agency of the United Nations)
together for nearly four years now, and the                                                                  those more fortunate: he resented that the     something that slows or prevents the action
                                                     and the American Psychiatric Association                fatted calf was killed for his brother (v.     from being done or undermines the success of
story is always basically the same. Only the         listed Passive-Aggressive Personality
details change. What the missionary is facing                                                                30).                                           others.
                                                     Disorder. However, in 1994 the American            • Voiced exaggerated complaints of
is the passive-aggressive behavior of a              Psychiatric association removed passive-
colleague, something quite common among                                                                      personal misfortune: he had “slaved” for       Who can be passive-aggressive?
                                                     aggressive from the list of disorders and               years (v. 29)
missionaries and other Christians. Since they        placed it in an appendix of items for further
do not feel free to express their dissatisfaction,                                                                The only criterion he did not meet                Anyone who is in a relationship with
                                                     study.                                             was the one saying that he alternated between
such people do things that, in effect, sabotage                Therefore, most nations consider it as                                                       you may be passive-aggressive toward you.
the project.                                                                                            defiance and contrition!                            • It may be someone above you, such as
                                                     a disorder, but mental health professionals in
                                                     the USA do not. However, even if it is not a                                                               your field director, a mentor, a committee
What is passive-aggressive                           disorder, passive-aggressive behavior is very      What are the symptoms?                                  chair, or an administrator in the home
behavior?                                            difficult to cope with. The American
                                                                                                                 By definition the passive-aggressive
                                                     Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental                                                             • It may be someone below you, such as a
                                                     disorders (DSM-IV) does list seven “Research       person has (1) a pattern of passive resistance          student in your class, a new missionary
        People who appear to support the
                                                     criteria for passive-aggressive personality        to carrying out requested actions and (2) a             you are orienting, or your own child or
requests of others but do not perform the
                                                     disorder,” and a person must have at least four    pattern of negativistic attitudes (an alternate         adolescent.
requested action correctly or soon enough are
                                                     of these criteria to be considered passive-        name is negativistic personality disorder).         • It may be someone at your own level, such
displaying passive-aggressive behavior. They
                                                     aggressive.                                                 As noted above, the DSM-IV criteria            as a fellow missionary, a colleague where
may even seem to be enthusiastic about the
                                                                                                        elaborated these two general conditions into            you teach, a friend, or even your spouse.
idea, but they use overt behavior to express
         The higher the commitment and the           •   Concretely define what you expect, and                    Ronald Koteskey
closer the relationship, the more the passive-           ask the person to paraphrase your wants.                Member Care Consultant
aggressive behavior will affect your life. For       • Do not accept, excuse, or reward poor                       GO InterNational
example, if your spouse or teenager does not             performance.
want missionary life, it will disrupt your life      • Tactfully challenge distortions but do not              This brochure is one of a series, and     What Missionaries
more than if a student in your class or a new            argue over them.                              you are invited to suggest other topics you
missionary is unhappy.
         Missionaries may show passive-
                                                     • Make sure that he or she understands that       would like to know about to the following:          Ought to Know
                                                         you care for him or her personally and are
aggressive behavior to avoid the stress of
confrontation. In 1983 Dorothy Gish asked
                                                         not just seeking control.                                   Ronald Koteskey
                                                                                                                     122 Lowry Lane
                                                                                                                                                           about Passive-
                                                     • Remember that if you become viewed as
547 missionaries to rate 65 items that cause
stress, and “confronting others when
                                                         an opponent, the objectionable behavior is
                                                         likely to increase.
                                                                                                                    Wilmore, KY 40390
                                                                                                                                                        Aggressive Behavior
necessary” was the one rated most stressful.                  Finally, if you do not succeed, do not               Phone: (859) 858-3436
Sixteen years later Joan Carter repeated the         blame yourself. If people do not want to
study with the same items plus some                  change, they do not. Remember that you did              e-mail: ron@missionarycare.com                  Ronald L. Koteskey
additional ones. The 306 missionaries still          not cause the passive-aggressive behavior.
placed confronting others at the top of the list.                                                              Visit the following web site to access
         Passive-aggressive behavior can stop                                                          other brochures in the series:
a project just like confrontation can, but it can
                                                     What if you are passive-aggressive?
do so with less stress. Missionaries who do                                                                      www.missionarycare.com
not want to oppose a program overtly can just                  People who are passive-aggressive
not get their part done so that the project fails.   may not realize that they are engaging in a
After that they can apologize for their              self-defeating, objectionable behavior. The
tardiness, ask forgiveness, and they have still      Spirit may have revealed to you that you use
accomplished what they wanted in the first           this habitual and problematic behavior
place.                                               yourself. If you recognize this troublesome
                                                     behavior interfering with your own work or
                                                     relationships, there is much hope.
What can you do?                                     • You may be able to change your passive-
                                                          aggressive behavior by “observing”
         Remember that this pattern of                    yourself and making changes in your own
behavior has “worked” for many years for the              behavior, asking God to help.
passive-aggressive people. Even though their
                                                     • You may want to ask a friend to help you.
behavior has an impact on you it is not about
                                                          It is much easier for people to recognize
you. Do not take it personally. Your goal is
                                                          such behavior in others, so the
to create a climate of safe and open
                                                          observations of a good friend may give
communication. The following may help.
                                                          good insights.
• Keep an open mind, avoid being
                                                     • You may want to see a counselor to help
    defensive, and acknowledge that some of                                                                                                                    GO InterNational
                                                          you identify and change your behavior.
    the concerns may be legitimate.                                                                    This brochure may be reproduced without
                                                          Cognitive-behavioral therapy may help
• Be empathetic but still request more                    you become aware of such behavior and        change and in its entirety for non-commercial
    appropriate behavior.                                 minimize it.                                 purposes without permission.

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