What Are the Characteristics of a Passive Aggressive Personality?

Common characteristics of a passive-aggressive personality include misguided resentment, procrastination, resistance, cynicism and frequent dissatisfaction. People with passive-aggressive personalities often make intentional mistakes in opposition to others' requests, complain about unfairness or lack of appreciation and express hostility in indirect ways, resulting in outward behavior that doesn't align with their negative inner feelings. For example, they may behave compliantly when given a task while simultaneously engaging in underhanded acts that weaken the outcome.

Others often have difficulty pleasing or interacting with passive-aggressive people because of their conflicting behavior. For a variety of reasons, passive-aggressive people are reluctant to communicate directly with others, so they tend to give dishonest opinions to avoid rejection or outright disagreement. They may appear agreeable to gain the approval of others while harboring petty or envious emotions, driving them to seek control through subterfuge.

Other common signs of passive-aggression are the tendency to behave as the victim and unwillingness to take responsibility for personal actions. Instead of recognizing their own shortcomings, individuals may blame their problems on the unreasonable demands of others. They may retreat from open communication during conflicts and use tactics such as silent treatment to avoid direct confrontation. A passive-aggressive person may deliberately procrastinate on tasks to gain power over others or give vague answers to gain the upper hand when others inevitably misinterpret them.