A Passive Voice

“Mistakes were made,” I heard them say,
“The public was misled” —
I think it was them who had done those things,
But they never really


I don’t care for fighting in relationships, so, where possible, I have no opinions. I’m fine with wherever we go for dinner, I’m fine with whatever my wife wants for furniture or decor. When I play games with my grandchildren, they can pick the games. I dislike conflict; for that reason, I avoid doing anything with large groups of people, since there are inevitably differences of opinion.

I was not originally conflict averse: I have come to be this way over time. As a child, teen, and twenty-something, I embraced conflict. I liked the challenge. I was part of the debate team in junior high and high school, which is nothing but arguing. I then carried those skills everywhere I went, arguing with people about sports, politics, religion, morality, and even music. I was quite a charmer.

When I started working at the company I work for now, things started to change. I have to deal with a considerable amount of conflict at work. I can do it. However, the amount I deal with professionally is enough for me: I don’t need more of it outside of work.

As such, I’ve become rather passive in many areas of my life, and that’s now many people know me. i don’t usually hear the word “passive”, I’m more likely to hear myself described as “easygoing”. I am not easygoing. Going anywhere is not easy for me if other people are involved. My passivity and willingness to go along are interpreted by people as something other than it actually is: conflict avoidance.

I enjoy spending time by myself now more than I ever have. It allows me to be active, making all of my own choices.

I read a book recently that gave me some pause. It was talking about male/female communication differences, and raised the point that conversational negotiation is part of the intimacy ritual for many women. Deciding on things together creates a sort of closeness.

Oh, no. Things I do to make the relationship better, like avoiding conflict, might actually be making it worse.


I know that conflict is inevitable among people, and that a certain amount, done the right way, is healthy. I also know that passivity, when it involves pretense, is not honest.

[whispers] You see, I really do care where we go for dinner… [/whispers]

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13 Thoughts to “A Passive Voice

  1. I think that people don’t like conflict because of the connotations, the word implies that some sort of battle will be done. I’ve found that, if I voice my opinion calmly and with a smile, a debate will ensue rather than a battle. Of course, if others become aggressive I’m likely to back down but most of the time they’ll respond calmly and the matter can be settled amicably.
    This was a really thought provoking read – thank you :O)

  2. I’ve grown up in a household where your opinion, even on the littlest thing, doesn’t matter and will be ignored. This usually comes around by people commenting on how easy going I am. Really it is because I am trained. For that reason, I tend to not say what my opinions are, generally, but when I do I come out swinging and playing hardball!
    Luckily I am in a relationship where my opinions are encouraged and speaking my mind is not something I have to give up. That sometimes when I want to play hardball I’m given the field and a bat. If its balls of tears or fire I know I am safe and everything will be talked about in some manner of calm (usually in such a way that I feel safe).

      1. I’m still living at home, except for this summer, and while this happens still it is better with my boyfriend giving me this space and encouragement.

  3. I’m the passive one around here. Probably the least opinionated female anyone has ever met. I hate conflict. I hate drama. Sometimes I had keeping my opinions to myself but its ingrained in me at this stage of life.

  4. I tell people I’m not easy going, I’m apathetic. It doesn’t seem like the right word for me because I care about so many things, but the large amount of stuff I don’t care about is immense. But I understand passive vs easy going, too. The book study is interesting! I wonder if my unwillingness to make joint decisions is a fear of intimacy. 🙂

  5. I totally get this and I laughed when I read your plight about possibly making things worse by you not creating a fuss sweating the small stuff. The whispering part is so familiar to me too, perhaps a quiet little release of your own to help the medicine go down. I think you are dead right when it comes to weighing up the balance of things. Unless you really detest doing something, if you can go along with it for the sake of avoiding conflict (and possibly even allowing yourself the luxury of not having to make a decision) then this can be liberating too in its own way.

    I detest conflict so much too and will only take a definitive stance if it means to not do so would affect my principles or rob the person I’m protecting (or even myself) of rights that belong to them (or me). The worse part about being flexible in this way is when you actually take a stand and people try to misinterpret that you were never easygoing in the first place, which is absurd. I’ve just found as you get older, you learn to pick the battles that are the most important to you and everything else can be left to its own devices. There are circumstances where I am actually forced to be the decisive one (particularly when choosing meals for my family) because to be passive would ensure that no decision is made and that is the worse crime imaginable when it comes to mealtimes and sorting out food. So maybe I’m saying if it involves food it’s important, otherwise don’t bother me with the details 🙂

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