Passive Aggression Not the LDS Way 

Organizational behavior has been a subject of serious study for me, so the interview with Michael Stevens was especially interesting [Five Spot, Aug. 25, City Weekly].

Information from another field of study can help to predict what to expect from a passive-aggressive person. There is a body of data used in counseling to evaluate an individual. A number of factors in a person’s behavior indicate an attitude toward others and a general outlook on life, and these factors provide a pattern that is quickly and easily identified. Given this data, it is possible to predict what one can expect from any given person; this information would be valuable for the success of any organization.

One personality type that can be identified with this data is the “covertly hostile,” another label for passive-aggressive. This is a person who is stuck between fear and anger, afraid to get angry, living a life of pretense. Here, we see the artificial smile, malicious gossip, the con man, the “friend” who will smile while attempting to ruin your reputation behind your back. My own personal label for this is “pious condescension.” People can get stuck in this pattern of behavior as a way of life.

Members of the LDS Church who practice a passive-aggressive attitude contradict the messages from their church leaders who make clear statements in conferences and elsewhere about the importance of getting along with others. The LDS Church also has a long and enviable history of generous support for other faiths.

A pattern of a person’s inability or refusal to consider the viewpoint of another can be found throughout society—up to and including the foreign policy of this country. We are engaged in trying to bring democracy to areas where family and tribe take precedence over state government, and successful actions depend on working with this reality. The only fair way to judge others is by the behavior of the individual—not by any label or connection to a group.

I came across the following statement recently: “Practicing contempt prior to investigation is the most dangerous of human traits.”

Loren Boddy

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