It hearkens back to sour memories of my mother saying, “We have to have a very long talk about something….but not now.” Then it sits there, hanging over my head (I have memories of this going back to about age 7), causing anxiety, upset stomach, and building anger. She still does it. She did it tonight. I even said “I hate it when you do that, it’s not fair to do that to me…” to which she said, “Well, tough.” Nice, huh?
My boss did it to me last week. Not with the same words, but via email “reprimanded” me for something she perceived as a transgression, and then said, “We can talk next week.” SO not fair. I can’t reply with anything graceful and there it sits, her thinking I’m a slacker, me thinking I’d like to never go back to work again (and I like my job!) even though it was a misunderstanding that could have easily cleared up with a quick conversation. Now it seems like a big ugly scary confrontation waiting to happen and I’m reacting like a 7-year-old (for obvious reasons) all stressed out and nervous. It feels a little like being convicted of a crime without a fair trial.
So my unsolicited advice to anyone who happens to read this is: There is probably someone in your life who finds this tactic to be extremely passive aggressive and threatening. It could be your employee, your boyfriend, your children…no matter who it is, don’t do it. It may put you temporarily in a position of power. But in the long run it leaves scars and breaches trust in a way that doesn’t easily heal.
And if you want to make yourself a better communicator, read this book. Seriously. It will help you in every relationship and discussion you have.