It's an oldie but a goodie, that term "passive aggressive", but really, what does it mean and what is the impact of this on your life?
In thinking about it, I feel it's like a sneak attack. It's when someone will almost never confront, but will often sabotage by "getting you" somehow when you least expect it. Employees can be passive aggressive--stealing things, gossiping, somehow letting out the negative energy of feeling mistreated or the anger of being underpaid and overworked by acting out in small ways, anonymous ways, non-confrontational ways.
Women sometimes utilize the tricks of passive aggression to express anger and rage. It seems historically less socially acceptable for a woman to get into a bar brawl or a street fight so typically, women will use language and psychology to battle and sometimes destroy or defeat their opponents.
Which has its place, don't get me wrong.
But the insidious nature of being passive aggressive is that you never quite resolve your anger. Instead, it lingers with you like a hangover and can go on for years. By refusing to confront things, so many people can bottle up their true feelings in a work situation, a marriage, or a friendship that the essence of the bond that drew you together in the first place becomes seriously compromised if not eroded. We are social beings with very firm "norms" in place (actually these are shifting even as we speak, but still) so it's tough for us to always know which battles to pick, when to confront, and when to let things slide.
And, on another level, sometimes we think it best to just work on our anger with ourselves, finding that place in ourselves where we can just "let it go," not be troubled by it any longer, needing no confrontation or passive aggression, just a simple egress back into a calm, semi-detached state.
I will argue that if it's a choice between confronting, letting go, or being passive aggressive, choose either confronting or letting go.