Instead of getting visibly angry, some people express their hostility in passive-aggressive ways designed to hurt and confuse their target. Most people will have to deal with passive-aggression from others in their personal and professional lives at one time or another: a roommate who leaves a sweet-yet-scolding note about the one cup that was left unwashed, for example, or the report a colleague keeps "forgetting" to finish.
Passive-aggressive behavior can be intensely frustrating for the target because it’s hard to identify, difficult to prove, and may even be unintentional. Passive-aggression can lead to more conflict and intimacy issues, because many people struggle to have a direct and honest conversation about the problem at hand.
Nagging or getting angry only puts the passive-aggressive person on the defensive—often resulting in them making excuses or denying any responsibility. Recent research shows that there are healthier ways to confront passive-aggression and handle relationship conflict.