The Passive Aggressive: Artist or Asshole?


by Tom Nardone

A term I have heard people use a great deal in my life is “Passive Aggressive”. No one ever speaks well of passive aggression. I hear people say “ugggh, she is such a passive aggressive bitch”, or “Why does he have to be so passive aggressive?” The English Dictionary, defines passive aggressive behavior as: “Away of behaving that seeks to manipulate others indirectly and resist their demands rather than confronting or opposing directly”

Maybe you are one of those people, who doesn’t appreciate this method of conflict resolution. Perhaps you find it to be, an annoying and condescending display of narcissism. Maybe you feel you are just being controlled, as if you were a puppet, enslaved to the will of the puppeteer. You feel this is a person’s attempt, to twist you up as if you were a pretzel. Possibly you feel very strongly about this and therefore have a need to be heard on this issue. Well…no, that is what you need. What you need is a t-shirt that says, “Hi I am the stupidest asshole you will meet all day”

The passive aggressive method is not for every circumstance, but In most cases, passive aggressive behavior is a gift given by the witty, caring or compassionate person, for the benefit of not hurting the feelings of those unworthy of concession. I am a huge supporter of passive aggressive behavior. It is getting your point across in the face of minor infractions committed by other people. In order to illustrate my position on this matter, I am going to take you through several scenarios, and you can decide in which scenario you would prefer to be the recipient. I will first use a real life example. I will give you passive aggression first and then non-passive aggression. I will always choose passive aggression. I want you to notice how one person is an artist and the other is an asshole.

A few weeks ago, Yvonne and I were downstairs in the den, enjoying a fine quiet morning with our laptops and coffee. This is a special time for us. During this time, Yvonne for a moment forgot to whom she was married because she turned on the news. I could not believe it. I have a RIGID no tolerance policy when it comes to news broadcasts, in the vicinity, of my uninformed ears. Most of you are aware of this, and so is she.

When the news came on, I stopped, and looked at my wife.

The artist says,

Oh hey Yvonne, Sweetie you don’t have to turn on the news. If you want me to take my laptop upstairs and leave you here to have some privacy, all you need to do is say so, and I will understand.” Her response was, “Tom, I’m sorry I just wanted to find out…” I don’t know. It was whatever the hell is going on in the world that she is interested in, and that I don’t give a shit about.”

The asshole says,

“Dammit Yvonne, you know how mad I get when I am forced to be in a room where assholes talk about the world and the bullshit that goes on in it! Turn this shit off right now, or I will go upstairs!”

I did not say this for two reasons. One, I love my wife and two I don’t think this warranted a full on confrontation. This was not a big deal. I saw no need to go to the mat with my wife about this. My passive aggressive comment was fun, entertaining, and witty and neither me, nor my wife, got angry or raised our voices. In fact, my wife was rather amused, as she often is, with my delivery of such a comment. I cannot imagine what her response would have been to the latter.

Maybe you are talking with a friend. You are having a nice, pleasant, and entertaining conversation. You are laughing and talking. You are having a wonderful time. In the middle of this exchange, here comes an asshole like a cockroach out of the woodwork, who begins speaking to your friend, as if you were not even in the room. So what do you do? You can’t do nothing. I did not call this article, “The Passive Aggressor: Artist, Asshole, or Pussy”. So pussy, not being an option, what do you do?

Well the artist says,

 “Oh hey listen John, I am so sorry. It was rude of me to be so inconsiderately having a conversation with Tim while you were trying to interrupt. Please go on and we can resume our conversation when you are finished.”

The Asshole will say,

“Hey you son of a bitch, we are talking here! If you got something, you just can’t keep to yourself, then take that stupid phone out of your pocket and call your mother. I am sure she will be delighted to hear that you have come out of the closet!”

The artist in this scenario colorfully illustrated a life lesson for the benefit of this lowlife interrupter. There was no expectation of such a concession, but he cared enough to allow this prick to save face, and admit that he was perhaps not aware that they were engaged in a meaningful exchange.

I remember my uncle Michael years ago telling people this joke. I will amend it to the artist v/s asshole theme that I have established. A man says to an artist, “Excuse me sir do you mind if I smoke?” and the artist says, “Why no. Do you mind if I fart?” We know he was an artist because if he were an asshole he would have said, “Hell yes I mind I don’t want lung cancer and I don’t like the smell of cigarettes so don’t you even think about lighting that up”

As we have seen before the asshole created a conflict whereas the artist with a little bit of jocularity, defused what the asshole was more than willing to facilitate.

There is no Tom Nardone Dictionary. If there were, then it would say:

Passive Aggressive behavior – The act of a person who in a situation that could be confrontational, chooses to avoid a confrontation through their wit and sense of humor.

They prevent what could otherwise be, a potentially uncomfortable and/or unpleasant situation. In all three examples, the issue begins with someone causing a problem. The “Artist” chose to make a joke or present their case in a way that allowed the offender to save face, and do the right thing. Whereas the asshole chose to make it, an uncomfortable circumstance that would no doubt put the offender on the defensive.

So there it is. What I have shown you, is the act of people personifying the age-old idioms of which we are all familiar, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, or “or no good deed goes unpunished”. Those that desperately need us, once again shit upon us, the passive aggressive, the witty and the humorous alike. We extend our hand of empathy only to have it slapped away without the slightest consideration. Even though our actions are that of service, education, tolerance, and entertainment, there are those who simply are without gratitude.

So listen-up assholes. We know that no amount of writing or talking we can do, can make you a good person. You are rude and inconsiderate sons-of-bitches. The world can live without you, and we would all prefer to do just that. Since there is no law that prevents you from being what you are, maybe you could do us all a big favor.

When the passive aggressive artists of the world try to help you by allowing you to see what a vile and pathetic piece of pig-shit you are, don’t hate us for it. We choose not to play at your level because you are beneath us and we don’t want a confrontation with you, as this will result in you talking. Please, we are begging you, just take the subtleness of our wit and use it as an opportunity to act like a person with a brain does. Say you’re sorry, acknowledge your guilt and let it just end there. Help us to help you.

The passive aggressors are amazing artists of words and of deeds. They do not simply spread pigments onto a canvas or dabble in anything so feeble as clay or stone. They work in the lives and deeds of rude bastards and insensitive pricks. They are a completely different kind of artist. They are far more than just artists. They are conversational superheroes the likes of which you are vastly unworthy. They serve this planet without a modicum of the respect they deserve. They work tirelessly to quench the fires of the senseless quarrels you create.

If you are unable to show any gratitude, then please do the world a favor and depart from it immediately.

I am Tom Nardone, and you are welcome.

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31 Responses to The Passive Aggressive: Artist or Asshole?

  1. TIA says:

    As usual, I got a good giggle out if this:)… At work, people constantly describe people as passive aggressive… now have made me realize that their behavior is a perk! I too am passive aggressive! Thank you again for your insight, and as I do everyday….I learned something new. 🙂

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  3. says:

    Totally awesome!!! I love it and many people come to mind as I read this!!

  4. Jade Reyner says:

    Spot on as ever Tom. I need you to send me a daily lesson in how to be myself and not be so sensitive and leave those people to whom you refer behind. Fancy a holiday to the UK? Lol. 🙂

  5. Perfectly stated Tom, as usual. I suspect there are times when the Artist should be in the front and other times when the Asshole is very much needed to take over. With your lovely wife, the Art of the Artisit is likely what keeps you both in good humor and in a loving marriage, you are both fortunate.

  6. ksbeth says:

    show the artist for those who deserve it,and show your ass to those who don’t. great post tomnardone.

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  8. Jeffrey says:

    I just love being able to do this. Saves time and effort. Full-blown confrontation takes way too much of both.

  9. tanstaafl28 says:

    I have found this approach especially useful as it saves a great deal of time and effort on my part. Most people aren’t worth either.

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  11. Gray Dawster says:

    Excellently offered Tom
    and I have known plenty
    of those assholes 🙁

    Luckily we don’t have to
    entertain them, just show
    them the door, or our ass
    according to Beth, either
    way we get shut of them 🙂


    I am thinking about you both…


  12. bossymoksie says:

    I prefer being the passive aggressive asshole. Diplomacy has never been a strong trait of mine.But I guess if I were married it would be another story!

  13. Onoir says:

    Got a good laugh out of this, but none of your examples illustrated passive aggressive behavior. They were delightfully, sarcastically witty, but not PA. Truly passive aggressive people don’t have balls – steel or otherwise – and so must make themselves feel better by doing something indirectly (usually behind the scenes) to avoid fulfilling a request or to sabotage something someone else wants done. In your own humorous way, you DID directly confront the people who were inconsiderate. Oh no!! You, Tom Nardone, may not be passive aggressive!

    Do I get a free t-shirt? 🙂

    • Tom Nardone says:

      I will admit that sarcasm and PA behavior are narrowly separated.However i having read your comment, went back and reread my post and looked up the definition of sarcasm. I have this to say in my defense.

      sarcasm is said to mock an incident. I don’t believe that i was mocking. I was sincere in my willingness to go upstairs, even though I was certain what the outcome would have been. I acted in a way in each incident, that was EXTRAORDINARILY passive. So much so that the aggressive undertone was actually louder. I was passive and in both actual cases i came across as aggressive. Sarcasm would have been to say “Well shit Yvonne yah turn up the volume and put another news show on the DVR so that we don’t have to miss any news during the commercial break”

      I am not saying your comment was right or wrong. I just see it differently. I will however say this is the first comment that i had to do research on. You are among the finest. Your awesomeness is welcome here always.

  14. At last! Someone else who appreciates passive aggressive alternative life choices!!!!!!! Loved your explanation.

  15. Sam says:

    Pathetic. Your trying to argue a point where you can control someone. What fucking matters if she put the news on you pathetic idiot. What about sex I bet she gets fuck all because she breathed the wrong way you sad sack of shit. How’s that for honesty.

    • Tom Nardone says:

      Sam I am laughing so hard at your comments I am crying. You are not being passive aggressive at all. Dude you crack me up and I am thrilled to have you as a reader my friend

  16. Sam says:

    Being passive agressive is not a fucking crown. Like I’m doing saying fuck you I’m frustrated . Your all children that never got to express themselfs like I am now ! And your fucking jealous! Your not helping yourselfs you passive agressive shit heads! We can’t stand this kind of manipulation withholding sex or if we ask for something… How about you ask your partner that loved you for something and he she pulls the same fucking shit you do. Not happy jan? You are all stupid and self centred fucking Pricks. U need a doctor if your happy the way you are

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