But what does it mean to be passive aggressive?
Put simply, a person uses behaviors to replace their inadequate verbal communication. The passive aggressive person may easily disassociate from or shut down their uncomfortable emotions. This makes it difficult to adequately identify the emotion, and to express it verbally. When confronted, they may simply respond with "I don't know." It is common for a person to feel hurt and then to engage in a behavior (i.e. silent treatment) to punish the person who hurt their feelings. They need to retaliate in hopes that the other person will figure out that they feel hurt. The behavior replaces the words, "you hurt my feelings."
Sadly, the passive aggressive person feels misunderstood. They are difficult to read. Words, not behaviors, enable others to clearly understand your feelings. It should not be a guessing game. It is not the responsibility of others to figure out what you are feeling or to somehow draw out your concealed emotions. It is your responsibility to understand your feelings and to express them in a way that others can understand you. To be verbally expressive is to be understood. To be understood is to let others know your inner self.