8 Classic Passive Aggressive Behavior

8 Classic Passive Aggressive Behavior

8 Classic Passive Aggressive Behavior

Do you completely shut down after an argument with your partner? Do you build walls around you so no one can peek in and see how angry/ sad/ resentful you feel? Do you avoid problems/ issues? If the answers to this are yes, then you may be a passive aggressive individual.

There are a number of times when one finds themselves unable to express the resentment and anger that they are feeling. Many may avoid expressing openly to avoid further arguments or conflicts and tend to bottle up their emotions. The subtle ways that their emotions do surface is passive aggressive behaviour. Basically, it is the indirect expression of hostility.

passive aggressive perosn

It may be a deliberate, active action but it is generally a veiled way to express one’s anger. Often these actions are manipulative and such passive aggressive behaviour wreaks havoc on relationships and on the overall well-being of a person’s psyche. Passive aggressive behaviour can be identified when there is no connection between what is being done and what is being said.

Here are 8 classic examples of passive aggressive behaviour.

1. The Silent Treatment


Most often, we tend to give the silent treatment to get our way. It is the most common tool in the arsenal of a passive aggressive individual. Being silent generally mean that we are agreeing to something but for passive aggressive people, silence is a way of showing their disagreement. They tend to close up and not share what their problem is with you and in doing so they get a sense of victory (Pyrrhic). Answering questions with one word or saying “no problem” when there obviously is one are other forms of the silent treatment that are often used by passive-aggressive people.

2. Sulking And Incessantly Complaining About Lack Of Appreciation And Injustice

unfair aggressive

The world of a passive aggressive person is often one where everyone is out there to get him/ her. Every action is against them. Everyone seems unfair and unjust to them.

 3. Hostile Attitude

hostile attitude

A passive aggressive individual often assumes that everyone else knows how they feel. Thus, when a request is made to them that do not fit into their schedule or interest, they take it to be a personal attack. 

They feel that the request maker is deliberately trying to put them in trouble or antagonise them.  They could easily express their discontent and their situation which might hinder the completion of the task.


Instead, they start harbouring negative and hostile feelings towards the concerned person. Say a person have had a bad day at work and have loads of office work that they have brought home to complete, their spouse asks them to take out the trash once they freshen up after they get back home.

Instead of talking to their spouse (who has no way of knowing how bad their day had been), a passive-aggressive person grumpily takes out the trash and feels hurt inside that their spouse does not care about the turmoil of their life. These sort of behaviour can bring distance between individuals and often the gap extends to a chasm that becomes too hard to bridge.

 4. Compliments- Veiled Criticism


A compliment delivered with a warm, pleasant smile can melt anyone. It gives a positive feeling about the person. You may notice that passive aggressive individuals are people who complement others a lot. But if paid attention, the hidden jibes under their complements become obvious. This is a way for them to vent out their frustration.

5. Resenting The Demands Of Others

demands of others

Instead of just saying “no” to a demand that might seem unjust or unfair to the person, he/ she agrees to it and later resents the person who made the demand in the first place. Instead of voicing how they feel and not agreeing to it, the passive aggressive individual starts harbouring negative feelings towards the request maker.

 6. Procrastinating Intentionally

Again the inability of a person to say “no” to a seemingly unjust request is the root of this kind of behaviour. Generally, procrastination (or the act of putting off the tasks that need to be done) is a subconscious decision, but when it comes to a passive aggressive person it becomes a conscious one in most cases. 

procrastinating intentionally

Instead of disagreeing at the point when the request was made and expressing their lack of interest in carrying out the task, the passive aggressive person often tends to keep delaying the work till the deadline  or even later.

no discussion

This delay is a passive way of showing the request maker their resentment, a way of punishing them for making such an unfair request and a way to ensure that they do not ask such favours from the passive aggressive person in the future.

 7. Making Mistakes Deliberately


Unable to say “No” to anyone’s request, a passive aggressive individual generally tends to underperform intentionally in the hopes that their poor work would result in the request maker never asking them to do any such unfair tasks.

8. The Last Laugh

last laugh

For a passive aggressive person, it is an absolute necessity to have the last laugh (as per them). Victory is very important in this world that they find unjust and unfair to them. So they are always keen on throwing the last punch, even when the conflict had been amicably reconciled, by sliding in a subtle, insulting remark.

It is very hard to realise if a person is passive aggressive and thus, not knowing, it becomes hard to resolve any issues with them. We have to remember that they are often like a child and need to have the upper hand. Keeping this in mind, we can figure out suitable ways to deal patiently with such a person to come to amicable solutions to any issues or conflicts.