Thursday Thought — Overt and Covert Aggression
Two Important Types of Aggression
Two of the most fundamental types of fighting. . . are overt and covert aggression. When you’re determined to have your way or gain advantage and you’re open, direct, and obvious in your manner of fighting, your behavior is best labeled overtly aggressive. When you’re out to “win”, get your way, dominate, or control, but are subtle, underhanded, or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive. Concealing overt displays of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into backing-off, backing-down, or giving-in is a very powerful manipulative maneuver. That’s why covert-aggression is most often the vehicle for interpersonal manipulation.
Covert and Passive-Aggression
I often hear people say someone is being “passive-aggressive” when they’re really trying to describe covertly aggressive behavior. Covert and passive-aggression are both indirect ways to aggress but they’re most definitely not the same thing. Passive-aggression is, as the term implies, aggressing through passivity. Examples of passive-aggression are playing the game of emotion “get-back” with someone by resisting cooperation with them, giving them the “silent treatment”, pouting or whining, not so accidentally “forgetting” something they wanted you to do because you’re angry and didn’t really feel like obliging them, etc. In contrast, covert aggression is very active, albeit veiled, aggression. When someone is being covertly aggressive, they’re using calculating, underhanded means to get what they want or manipulate the response of others while keeping their aggressive intentions under cover.
(from Dr. George Simon’s book, In Sheep’s Clothing [*Affiliate link] , pp21-22)
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