The Passive-Aggressive Jab

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Click here for her website:

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures on the following dates, times, and locations:

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, REQUIRED)

September 9, 2018, 3:15pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” THRIVE Expo –  sponsored by The Gazette newspaper, Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (No RSVP Required)

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133,  (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, (RSVP REQUIRED)

Now, on to my blog:

BoxingWhat I’ve termed the “passive-aggressive jab” (PAJ) is definitely a one-two punch thrown when you aren’t looking. It’s that oh-so-subtle put down that you can’t quite define, can’t quite grasp. The PAJ is usually delivered when you’re off-guard, and all of a sudden you sense that everything feels weird.

The jab thrower might be a friend, relative, boss, teacher, co-worker, acquaintance, stranger, or any other relationship description.  He/she might have a pleasant smile on his face during the punch, so you doubt that it was really meant the way it made you feel.  You wonder if you are wrong in your assessment, and you doubt your own sanity.

Am I crazy, or did he just say that?

The puncher’s comment is usually structured so it can be interpreted in different ways.  You wonder what kind of a person you are to attribute it in such a negative manner.  Maybe he meant it in the best possible light, and you’re the creep.

Over time, you begin to notice more such behavior on the part of the jabber. After a while, you begin to suspect that you were right all along. However, any confrontation will yield something like “What are you talking about? That’s not what I meant.”

You have been turned into the bad guy.  He and anyone else he can enlist into his camp look at you askance and defend poor him.

Why do people behave that way?  It doesn’t matter.  If such behavior stokes his ego in some fashion, that is not your problem to figure out or fix.  What is your problem is how to combat such conduct when it’s aimed at you?  It’s hard, but it can be done.

First, you have to realize that you’ve been the victim of the passive-aggressive jab.  Next, you have to swerve to avoid it, just like the boxer does to deflect the hit.  In this  case, it’s an emotional swerve.  Here are some countermeasures you might employ:

1. Refuse to engage!

2. Don’t respond, even when you suspect that a grenade has just landed at your feet.

3. Resist retaliating in kind; that only becomes a pissing match of put-downs.

4. Stare him down.

5. Wait for an opportune moment where you can whisper privately to him, “I’m not playing that game.”

6. Take your leave, either physically or emotionally.

7. Socialize with others present and avoid your attacker.

8. Maintain self-control.

Remember not to try to reason with him. That’s what he wants so he can make himself look like an innocent.  Instead, try some of the above suggested techniques.  If one doesn’t cut it, try another.  Create some of your own.  Make them work for you.


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Photo credit: maxintosh on / CC BY



Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, seniors, successful aging, wellness

4 responses to “The Passive-Aggressive Jab

  1. Roger Trammell

    Politicians have perfected the art off the PAJ…”the kind gentleman from…the distinguished senator from…You get the picture. I prefer the way the Brits do it. They’re straight out and leave little room for misinterpretation.

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