If you’ve ever had to deal with a passive-aggressive person, you’ll know how frustrating it is. Passive-aggressive behavior takes many forms. From silent treatment to rolling eyes or even backhanded compliments.

The problem lies in its ambiguous nature. Often you don’t realize you have been the victim of a passive-aggressive person. Or, you don’t have time to think of a witty response. So, if you want to know how to annoy a passive-aggressive person, read on.

First, let’s examine types of passive-aggressive behavior.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior: What Does It Look Like?

Passive-aggressive behavior is conveying anger through indirect or surreptitious ways. Passive-aggressive behavior can be verbal or physical.

Types of Passive-Aggressive Behavior



  • Constant lateness
  • Social exclusion
  • Procrastination
  • Withholding affection
  • Incompetent behavior
  • Gossiping behind your back
  • Rolling the eyes/sighing/yawning

I want to show you examples and suggestions of what you can do. Here’s how to annoy a passive-aggressive person.

How to Annoy a Passive-Aggressive Person – 13 Ways

1. Sarcasm: Reply with sarcasm

Sarcasm is a way of appearing witty, but it comes with a nasty underlying tone. If you want to know how to annoy a sarcastic passive-aggressive person, have a bank of replies ready. Here’s a few:

“It’s so refreshing to see that not everyone is obsessed with appearances.”

“You’re really clever; you must be right at the top of the bell curve.”

“You’re like those idiot savants; without the savant part.”

“I don’t have the time or the crayons to explain this to you.”

“I hope the rest of your day is as pleasant as you are.”

“I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll make an exception.”

“I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”

“I admire how you don’t care what other people think of you.”

2. Silent treatment: Ignore them and have fun

people who can't apologize

Giving someone the silent treatment is typical passive-aggressive behavior. This is because the person avoids confrontation without saying a word. They can also pretend that nothing is wrong if you call or text, that they were busy or didn’t see your messages.

They are happy while you are in the dark. The silent treatment is a way of controlling you. But how to annoy a passive-aggressive person who is saying nothing? How to break silent treatment? Ignore it.

When someone gives you the silent treatment, they want it to affect you. They want to know how terrible you’re feeling, wondering what is wrong with them. The best way to annoy passive-aggressive behavior like this is to play them at their own game.

Ignore them. Get on with your life. Post on social media. Go out with other friends. Eventually, they will break their silence.

3. Sulking: Do your own thing

Sulking sets the atmosphere. It’s that ‘Fine, whatever’ response. This brooding, moody behavior permeates the whole relationship. After all, it’s difficult to have fun and be upbeat with someone in the corner, looking like a wet weekend. So, how do you stop a sulker?

Do your own thing. Let the person know you are in a good mood, and you don’t want to spoil it. If they cannot tell you what is wrong, you’ll just leave them to sort it out themselves. You are more than happy to discuss any issues, but you won’t put up with sulking; that’s what children do.

4. Telling jokes or saying things that are not funny: Ask for an explanation

Do you get accused of being too sensitive? Have you been told you’ve got no sense of humor? That you can’t take a joke? Manipulators conceal hurtful words under the guise of “I was only joking.” Or they accuse you of being super-sensitive.

This is a bullying tactic with a double whammy; the person gets away with saying something awful and trashes your reputation.

Take the sting out of a rude remark cloaked as a joke by asking the person to explain it to you. You can even act a little self-deprecating by apologizing for not ‘getting it’. Keep at them, saying

Sorry, I just don’t understand the joke.”

5. Playing the victim: Annoying responses


unfulfilled life signs

We see passive-aggressive behavior in those who play the victim. It undermines someone else’s achievements or gains them sympathy.

Examples of playing the victim look like this, and if you want to know how to annoy a passive-aggressive person, have a look at my responses:

“I never had the chances you had, otherwise I could have a successful career.”

Response: “We can only dream and wonder.”

“You’re lucky. You’ve always had supportive parents. I’ve had to fend for myself.”

Response: “You little trooper! Gosh, I honestly don’t know how you’ve managed all these years.”

“You’d be late all the time if you were as busy as me!”

Response: “We’re all busy love. Maybe my time management is better than yours.”

“I wish my life was as easy as yours.”

Response: “I know. I’ve worked hard to get where I am.”

6. Patronizing behavior: Agree with them/Ignore them

People mask passive-aggressive behavior with patronizing remarks. These remarks appear as words of wisdom, encouragement, or friendly advice. In fact, they are controlling behavior, designed to tip you off balance and lower your self-esteem.

If you want to play them at their own game, you can agree with their statements, or embarrass them into silence.

For example:

“Oh, my dear, don’t worry about it. It’s far too complicated for you.”

Response: “Gosh, thanks, my little fluffy-filled kitten head nearly exploded!”

“Well, aren’t you looking better?!”

Response: “It’s all the colonic irrigation treatments, but thank you for noticing.”

“We’re so happy you’ve finally managed to find a boyfriend; we were getting worried!”

Response: “Oh don’t worry, I’ve been making up for lost time in the bedroom, if you see what I mean!”

“I can see you’ve made a genuine effort with that casserole. Well done for trying.”

Response: “Yes, I’m not an excellent cook like you. I’m better at sex.”

You can also ignore what they’ve said and walk away. If you like, pretend you haven’t heard what they’ve said. Their goal is to get a reaction from you. By walking away, you are deflating their goal.

7. Constant lateness: Tell them an earlier time

I only have one simple tip for you if someone is constantly late and you’re fed up with it. Lie.

Tell them it is Wednesday if they have a Friday deadline. Inform them that the meeting starts at 1.30pm if they have to attend it at 2pm. If you’re meeting for lunch, tell them it’s brunch. If they’re always late, rewinding time ensures they arrive on time, and you’re not stressed.

8. Social exclusion: Be direct

It’s not nice to be excluded from a party or event. Leaving someone off the guest list is typical passive-aggressive behavior. You might only find out after the event through gossip or social media.

Leaving someone out is sneaky but deliberate. The person doesn’t want to confront you, but they want you to feel isolated.

You can annoy passive-aggressors like this by direct confrontation. So, say something like:

Oh, how was your party? Did many people turn up? I’m sorry I missed it, but I had to work.

9. Procrastination: Set consequences

I had a housemate whose only job was to clean the bathroom. I did everything else. He hadn’t done it for three months and it was coming up to Christmas when we had guests staying. Christmas Eve arrived, and he still hadn’t done it. I ended up cleaning it.

He would say things like:

“You don’t have to keep reminding me.”

“I’ll get round to it when I have time.”

“It’s hardly important, is it?”

After Christmas, I put my foot down. I used to do all the cooking and shopping and would leave him a meal every day. The first day I didn’t cook for him he asked where his dinner was. I told him, clean the bathroom and I’ll cook for you. He started getting takeaways and ready meals, but soon found it too expensive.

After a week, I came home to a sparkling clean bathroom. That’s how to annoy a passive-aggressive person who is procrastinating.

10. Withholding affection

This is a manipulative way to behave. Not wanting sex, turning away from a kiss or hug is demoralizing. My advice? Be all over your partner like a rash.

I do this with my dogs. As part of our playtime, I give them lots of love and kisses. If your partner gets stroppy, tell them you’ll find someone who wants affection.

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11. Incompetent behavior

Excuses such as ‘I don’t know how to load the dishwasher’ or ‘You are a better cook than me’ or ‘I never do the housework as good as you’ don’t cut it with me.

I had a boyfriend once that couldn’t do his laundry. So, I showed him how to work the washing machine. We are talking about grown adults here people.

12. Gossiping behind your back

why do people gossip reasons

Badmouthing a person has many root causes. But that’s a different article. If someone is gossiping behind your back, the best way to annoy them is to embarrass them.

Call them out but passive-aggressively. Say to them you’ve heard someone is spreading rumors about you and what sort of lowlife would do that? How can a friend stoop to such levels? They must be insecure and stupid.

13. Rolling eyes/Sighing loudly/Yawning

This sort of passive-aggressive behavior makes the person feel superior. They’re showing boredom or disagreement, but in a conspiratorial way, behind the person’s back.

Bring their behavior to everyone’s attention. Annoy the passive-aggressive perpetrators with comments such as:

‘Have you got something in your eye?’ ‘Oh, *waving hands around* did you forget to brush your teeth today?’ ‘Were you up all night masturbating?’

Final Thoughts

Passive-aggressive behavior is insidious, cowardly, and downright irritating. Fight back with my tips on how to annoy a passive-aggressive person.

Featured image by luis_molinero on Freepik

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Dianne Lininger

    I’ve had both doctors & waiters roll their eyes at me when I asked them to explain something.

  2. Josh

    An article about learning how to manipulate a passive-aggressive person by using passive-aggressive tactics? Nobody wins here. Far more effective to have a conversation about the behavior than play the game. Employing any of these tactics is a recipe for more anxiety.

  3. M

    When talking & asking the person to stop does not work. It feels good to fight fire with fire. If don’t to a narsasist, it feels even better because they do this 24/7.

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