13 accidental passive aggressive phrases you should avoid

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Saturday 02 July 2016 18:20

Passive aggressive remarks are something of a national institution.

Perhaps it's because of your desire to live up to the notion that the British are a polite sort, that it clashes with everything bitter in your soul.

To be fair, sometimes you're trying to find a polite way of saying something - but your true sentiments will shine through and warp your words into something truly monstrous.

Not that people think I'm passive aggressive, or anything.

I'm fine with it.


Here's thirteen accidental (or not) passive aggressive phrases to look out for:

1. No need to thank me

You clearly want thanking because you said it.

2. Present company excluded, of course

This one usually follows a broad and borderline rude generalization and then an abrupt realisation that someone present fits your description.

This post-script doesn't make up for what you just said.

3. I'll pray for you

This is bad when directed at an atheist. It sounds like "because you're faithless" or "I disregard what you believe in".

The air is thick with judgement. I can't breathe for the 'holier than thou'.

It's often meant to be kindly, but it's misguided.

4. Maybe later

So it's a no. Say 'no'.

5. I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for

Sent by spurned flings you never met on Tinder and other dating apps.

Don't be the sort of person who sends it. Rise above.

6. Speak first

We get it, you don't like opening a Tinder conversation.

Guess what, nobody does. It's cold out there. So don't demand that you're the only one absolved of the responsibility.

7. What do you mean you've never heard of __?

Oh well, now you've asked me loudly, to much embarrassment, I have heard of that obscure band.

In fact, I love them. I've been to see them twice. Since you asked, in fact.

Now I have your approval? Glad we sorted that out.

8. Do you want to do __ for me?

Again, this is probably a case of someone aiming at politeness and missing it superlatively.

The sentence means "Will you do X for me?" and asking that is fine.

"Do you want" is almost Orwellian. It's not enough to obey, you have to love Big Brother as well.

9. Just saying

It's a silly phrase too. It implies words are just sounds which don't carry meanings. Whatever you're about to say is probably going to be heavy and you don't definitely mean it.

10. OK

Obviously this one depends on tone, but such an easy term can drip with ill will.

Certainly avoid combining this with some 'bitch-please' raised eyebrows.

11. Mate

Usually this is a stand-in for a certain other four later word. If you're saying "Mate", you probably don't know their name. They're probably a stranger.

You've probably just decided they've wronged you. You're probably wrong.

12. You can't take a joke

A cover up for the last passive aggressive thing you said.

Blaming their personality and pretending you were speaking in jest makes you look slimy and deceitful.

13. I wish I was as __ as you are

This sort of backhanded compliment is just your way of implying someone isn't up to scratch by re-framing your criticism as a compliment.

You have all been warned.

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