An ongoing responsibility of every communicator—and certainly the bulk of my own workday—is spent making sure that writing is crisp and clean, with no vague, squishy messaging. Which is why, when I need a break from making the world safe from ambiguity, I find PassiveAggressiveNotes.com such an online guilty pleasure (along with shoe-shopping at Zappos.com).
The good people at PassiveAggressiveNotes collect funny, irritating, and just plain stupid examples of writing that does not follow the old adage, “Write what you mean.” The unwitting contributors of the notes that end up on the site are dodging what they really want to say in favor of indirect, pretending-to-be-polite-but-seething-with-repressed-hostility message bombs.
Like this one from the popular “office fridge” category (workplace fridges often serving as the Olympic stadiums of passive-aggressive note competition):
To whomever stole my “Jenny Craig” dinner.
Thank you sooo much for your kind consideration. I hope you enjoy it. And decide to join “Jenny Craig. Because maybe then you’ll find out how expensive it is. And how much commitment it takes to stay on the program.
Guilt-trip notes from parents to their kids also make enjoyable procrastination-time reading, like this card from a mom who is clearly unhappy her son has not yet married his girlfriend:
Then there are people who wield passive-aggressiveness like a sharp knife. I have to tip the hat to this person, who used ketchup to make his point (and mustard to underscore it) after fruitlessly waiting for service at an Oregon lunch counter:
Reflecting on the above “communications,” I do believe any communicator can learn quite a lot from passive-aggressive writing. Perhaps mastering how to deliver a subtle zinger or insult, hidden within a simmering rant, is a skill we can apply in the non-fridge settings of the workplace.
Or maybe not. I’ll let you decide as you chew on these dueling notes on meat-eating:
VEGAN? Vegan, vegetarian or vegan-curious? Casual, nonjudgmental support & opportunities to connect! Monthly meetups within the community. JOIN NOW!
Carnivore? Chances are you dont [sic] need some wimpy support group. Keep being AWESOME!