Dealing with Passive Aggressive People

Passive aggression, by definition, is the fine art of being angry without seeming angry. 

It’s an inseparable coffee-and-cream swirl of two ingredients: anger and avoidance. 

The first, anger—or its cousins annoyance, frustration, and irritation—always bubbles beneath the surface. But trying to suppress anger is like trying to keep a lid on a pot of boiling water. Eventually, a steam vent will spew out.

In addition to semi-hidden hostility, the second ingredient in passive aggression is avoidance. It’s a way to skirt conflict, not feel genuine anger, and avoid having to be direct in a situation where one feels incapable—three wins that powerfully reinforce a habit of passive aggression.