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Discussion Topic - Weaponized Incompetence

CLove's picture

I think many of us can relate to this. I certainly can! I saw it with SDnow22 Feral Forger when she was living with us - she would do the dishes when asked but do them badly - so badly in fact that her father would just give up giving her any dishwashing duty at all. I see that in my husband with respect to household and event planning as well as our general activities. I see it with respect to SD15 B/M's schooling. I see this sometimes with B/M's approach to household chores such as cleaning the bath tub. 

I saw this on a site I like to read frequently and it was in relation to people who cheat. In the links, the term is applied to Women primarily, and applied to husbands and children. I think it happens to anyone and everyone. Its at the root of many of us stepparents frustrations with skids and partners/spouses. I know its a BIG frustration point for ME.

Weaponized Incompetence defined:

How can YOU relate? How do you battle this? How can we WIN the battle?


lieutenant_dad's picture

Don't confuse laziness with weaponized incompetence. Laziness comes from selfishness; WI comes from punishment. 

CLove's picture

Lazy is one thing - attitude is another. The "freeze out" I call it. She will do the :freeze out", and yes that makes me angry, and that makes her father anxious, so he has to dance around and mke her laug at something.

He just attributes it to teen antics.

tog redux's picture

She's angry that she has to do chores.  Passive-aggressive people don't express anger directly, they do it by making YOU angry. Then you express the anger that they feel.

lieutenant_dad's picture

I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. I definitely think weaponized incompetence exists, but I also think weaponized perfectionism also exists. There is a big difference between someone who won't do something and someone who can't do something to the high expectations expected by someone else. However, I think society has tried to blur the line between the two. Like, does your DH actually NEED a detailed shopping list of the things to buy because it's the only way he can't throw "well how was I supposed to know!" in your face OR do you make that detailed of a list because you will see (and treat) him as a failure if he doesn't buy exactly what you've planned out in your brain that you need?

The reality of what is actually happening en masse is likely somewhere in the middle between those extremes. However, weaponized incompetence can lead to weaponized perfection and vice versa. If someone let you down in the past, you're less likely to trust someone in the future. However, if you've never been trusted to do simple tasks (or do them adequately but not to an arbitrary standard), you're more likely to stop trying because you get "in trouble" either way.

ETA: Either way, it's all about control. "I don't like that something isn't happening a way I want it to, so I'm going to cause you mental pain and frustration as payback."

24 years as a SM's picture

When DD42 was 12, she tried the half-assed cleaning the dishes. The problem with my DD was that she couldn't be sneaky if her life depended on it, she thought that she get out of doing the dishes if she did a bad job. I did the same thing at her age, and boy did I learn my lesson. My mom pulled everything out of the kitchen cabinets and put it on the counter next to the sink and told me to wash all of them, if one item was not clean, I had to wash everyything again until I got it right. I did the samething with DD at 12, she never tried that crap again. If she was cleaning something and she felt that it wasn't coming clean, she would ask what she was doing wrong or how to clean it correctly. 

Maybe this is why DD42 owns a cleaning business, I know she is tough on her employees about cleaning, I guess this would be weaponized perfection.

hereiam's picture

Nope, cannot relate. My SD was, and is, just lazy. She was lazy as a child and she's lazy as an adult. Every place that she has lived, that we have visited, has been filthy.

Oddly, every time DH talks to her on the phone, she's "cleaning".

And, she's very slow moving. So, if you were to ask her to do the dishes, she would do them, but be prepared for that to take until the next meal is served.

shamds's picture

"You do it so much better so you might as well do it"  for chores to which i responded with "i know you're not stupid or you wouldn't have risen up the corporate ladder so just do things right as i have enough work to deal with raising 2 toddlers.

ss was 19 and would do a full load of washing with 1/3 of water selected to the washing, then hang his foul sweat smelling clothesnright with ours and our kids. My husband ordered his son clean it properly immediately.

He used to dump dirty dishes in the sink and tell his dad he didn't know he had to clean it and i should since i'm a stay at home housewife and it was my job- i had a newborn baby at the time.

the fact this piece of shit thinks he can renegade me to such a low level when he has the batshit crazy useless bio mum doesn't sit well with him and he told him off that it wasn't my job to clean up after his lazy arse when i had a newborn

Ispofacto's picture

It happens everywhere.  I've had a lot of incompetent coworkers who were just lazy AF.

“If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
('Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won't let you
Dry the dishes anymore”
― Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic


tog redux's picture

Exactly. Social media makes up a clever new term for it, but it's been going on since humans have existed, I'd imagine. 

I'm angry that I have to do a chore, so I'll do it half-assed, then YOU will be angry and also - you won't ask me to chores anymore.


CLove's picture

The step thing. Cannot ask child to do chores because then Child will bad-mouth and activate toxic troll.