The covert operative’s method of understanding, managing and dealing with passive-aggressive people situationally and permanently in professional and personal scenarios.


Passive-aggression is a common problem found in any environment where people interact with one another.

It’s mission critical to know how to deal with passive-aggressive people because they can be exhausting and disruptive, negatively affecting your mental health and effectiveness as an operative.

Passive-aggressiveness is a type of behavior that expresses hostility, spite or other negative feelings in indirect ways. It involves avoiding direct confrontation and instead speaks or acts in a covert manner to express annoyance, bitterness and displeasure.

In hopes of avoiding any confrontation, many individuals will instead communicate in a dishonest, indirect manner that often complicates and exasperates any potential outcome or resolution.

A passive-aggressive individual may offer cryptic jabs, veil subtle threats, or start whispering secrets as a means of gaining an edge over them.

Unfortunately, these tactics always have negative consequences for all involved, making understanding why it’s done so important in developing ways to face issues without the need for such tactics.

Developing an understanding and directive around how to address passive-aggressiveness is essential, in your relationships with others and with yourself. Approaching the person at hand can be an intimidating prospect, but arming yourself with the right mindset before doing so will help.

Analyzing their patterns of behavior can give insight into where the reactions stem from and why they’re occurring, which then allows for proactive steps to be taken towards prevention or resolution.

          Understand the Problem

The first step to dealing with passive-aggression is to understand what it is and why it happens. A passive-aggressive person expresses their feelings indirectly, usually through sarcasm or criticism.

Whatever way they express it, despite it being “passive”, is quite noticeable – which of course is by design. So detecting this behavior is the easy part.

This behavior can occur due to fear of conflict, low self-esteem, insecurity, or even a lack of assertiveness skills. Knowing this can help you approach the situation in a more understanding manner rather than responding negatively.

Try to focus on resolving the underlying issue and finding a solution that works for both of you. Avoid getting bogged down in the behavior and instead concentrate on finding a way to move forward.

          Set Boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries when interacting with someone who is known to be passive-aggressive. This includes setting limits on how much criticism you will accept (for the sake of the mission) and being clear about what behavior is unacceptable.

Begin by setting boundaries you are comfortable with while being mindful of the needs of those whom you encounter; this will create an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding that other parties may not be aware of it until it’s expressed.

Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into an argument as this will only make things worse. Instead, remain calm and assertive when voicing your opinion or making requests – never going down to their level.

          Challenge Their Behavior

Encourage the person to communicate directly and openly with you. Explain that their passive-aggressive behavior is causing confusion and making it difficult for you to understand their needs and feelings.

This will force the other person to think about their words and actions before they speak or act out again. Additionally, try not to take their comments personally as this will only add fuel to the fire.

Countering with a confrontational tone / words will only make things worse as this is what an actively passive-aggressive person wants.

Being assertive without being confrontational can be difficult to achieve, but is an essential life-skill for both personal and professional development.

A good approach is to start with open-ended questions, ask for explanations and clarify when needed. Then, use body language such as eye contact and a confident posture, plus controlling your tone of voice by speaking calmly to validate your point.

          Tradecraft Method




          Signs of Passive-Aggression

• Sulking / Silent Treatment

Visibly (theatrically) sulking and giving someone the silent treatment are both the most obvious tell-tell signs of passive-aggression. These behaviors can be used to punish the other person or to avoid dealing with a problem head-on.

• Avoiding Eye Contact

When someone is being passive-aggressive, they may avoid making eye contact with the person they are communicating with. This can be a sign that they are feeling uncomfortable or guilty about something.

• Speaking in an Unusually Soft Voice

Someone who is being passive-aggressive may speak in a soft(er) voice as a way of avoiding conflict. This can be frustrating for the person they are speaking to, as it can be difficult to hear what they are saying.

• Saying “Yes” But Meaning “No”

This is a classic passive-aggressive behavior. The person may agree to do something, but then fail to follow through on their promise. This can leave the other person feeling angry and frustrated.

• Making Absurd / Nonsensical Excuses

When confronted or merely suggesting about their behavior, a passive-aggressive person may make excuses instead of taking responsibility for their actions. They may say that they forgot or that they didn’t mean to do whatever it is they did.

• Being Late For No Good Reason

Passive-aggressive people often deliberately show up late to events or meetings as a way of punishing the other person involved. This can be extremely frustrating, especially if the other person is waiting around for them past the agreed upon time.

• Withholding Information

Another common passive-aggressive behavior is withholding information from the other person. The person may refuse to answer questions or give non-answers in order to create tension or confusion. This can also be seen as “childish behavior”.


It can be difficult to confront and deal with a passive-aggressive person without aggression because such behavior takes patience, understanding and a willingness to communicate constructively.

However, by keeping cool and understanding why it happens, you can defuse the situation and maintaining healthy relationships between both parties involved.