Post-It Notes and Passive-Aggressiveness

Because being passive-aggressive is a good way to handle things. Not.

I have a theory that you’re not a true college kid until you’ve come home to find a passive-aggressive post-it note from your roommate stuck on your door telling you you did something wrong.

And that’s not cool. So I’ll be doling out a few tips on how to calmly deal with people who do stuff like that. And to make it real simple and easy, there’s only 3 main things to remember:

  1. People who are passive-aggressive aren’t bad people; they’re just bad communicators.
  2. Don’t be afraid to call put passive-aggressive behavior; but do it respectfully and be specific
  3. Realize that most times, passive-aggressive behavior comes from underlying personal problems….and there’s nothing you can do to fix that.

Everybody has at some point either unknowingly or knowingly down something that could be called passive-aggressive. Heck, I know I’m guilty. But that doesn’t mean we’re bad people. Even people who consistently deal with issues in passive-aggressive ways aren’t necessarily bad, they just don’t know the right way to deal with conflict. 

Somewhere along the line, we forget how to deal with things in an adult way. Most people don’t enjoy having to duke it out with somebody and will try their best to avoid having things blow up. But we’ve all learned that holding something in and just suffering silently isn’t the way to go. So why do we sometimes keep doing it? 

Because there is a fear of things coming to a head. But the thing is, passive-aggressive people can’t just put their head down and expect change to magically happen. You have to talk about things to see a difference. So just remember when dealing with your passive aggressive person, they’re not bad. They’re not out to get you. They just want something to change and they, unfortunately, are so scared of you that they can’t bring themselves to talk it out. 

So, if anything, you should already be feeling slightly better about the situation because that type of behavior means that the other person is likely intimidated by you. Congrats on asserting your dominance unknowingly. 😉

At some point though, you’re going to have to talk things out. I don’t know about you, but seeing that post-it note just hanging there for weeks on end drives me batty. You just gotta bring it up and actually talk. 

Do it repetitively though by acknowledging what the other person may be feeling and telling them that you’ll do your best to help solve the problem. It also will help to be specific in what behavior you’ve noticed. Meaning, don’t be vague and be like, “So….are you doing okay lately? You’ve seemed pretty distant.” Instead be direct and say something like, “Hey, I saw your post-it note about how my dishes are piling up. Why didn’t you tell me how you felt in person?” This works because it makes the person realize how their behavior looks and also makes them give you a direct answer. 

Sometimes you could do everything right, try to talk it out with your roommate or whoever is being passive-aggressive and nothing will change. The post-it notes and silent treatments keep coming and you know why? Because they’re dealing with personal issues and this is a side effect.

Case in point, one of my worst experiences with passive-aggressiveness was with a roommate who despite my efforts to talk it out, would not relent in making obnoxious requests and complaining about little things I would do. There was a point where I was asked not to use the bathroom or shift around in my bed at night because it woke her up.

Yeah, that was obviously not alright with me.

Thing was, it was a struggle for absolute power and control over me on her part. No matter what fixes I made in trying to be a better roommate, it was never enough and the requests and passive-aggressive behavior got worse. But looking back, I realize that all of it stemmed from control issues with another relationship she had. 

So if you do your best and somebody keeps being awful? Just remember that it probably isn’t you anymore, it’s them and their issues. Also, have more balls than I did and stand up to them if it gets to that point. If they’re making obnoxious complaints, tell them that they are making silly complaints and that make it clear that you are not going to stand for them taking out their problems on you.

And if they tell you you’re not allowed to use the bathroom at night? Then move out like I did, ’cause that person is quite possibly crazy.


Hope this was helpful! And btdubs, if you have an idea you’d like to see me cover, just shoot me a comment below and I’ll take a look 🙂


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