"Passive-aggressive behavior is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations.
It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
It is a defense mechanism, and (more often than not) only partly conscious. For example a worker when asked to organize a meeting might seemingly happily agree to do so, but will then take so long on each task in the process - offering excuses such as calls not being returned, or that the computer is too slow, or that things are not ready when the meeting is due to start - that a colleague is forced to hurriedly complete the task, lest the meeting be postponed."
[Definition from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_aggressive_behavior]
We all know folks who are like this... you speak with them about a project, or a problem, and they nod, repeat back what you said, and maybe even come up with a solution or two.
Then... they do exactly what they wanted to do - and that is not what you were trying to accomplish.
It can be very frustrating, and depending on the expertise of the offender, you may find yourself scratching your head, wondering if your communication skills are off, or if the person didn't understand you.
To paraphrase an old saying: they understood you perfectly; they're ignoring you.
So, how do you keep your sanity, *and* deal with these people?
1. Do not nag, beg, cajole, wheedle, or plead. Make your statement, and STOP TALKING. Remember, they understand, they're just ignoring you.
2. Don't get angry. It takes you from a place of proactivity, and will cause you to say or do things that you will regret later.
3. Cover Your Assets [Keep records]. If you discussed something, and a plan of action was agreed to, send everyone involved a transcript of the meeting, including who is to do what. If it's not taken, you have records of what you said, and more importantly, what THEY said they would do.
4. Do NOT count on them. No matter what you have to do, make certain that you have a "Plan B" and a "Plan C" [because your "Plan A" - them - is not reliable] to make certain that you get what YOU have to get done, done.
5. Don't take it personally, even though it may seem to be that way. If you do some digging, you will find that they are that way with everyone, not just you.
6. No matter what they tell you, no matter what promises are made, DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM - ONLY look at WHAT THEY ACTUALLY DO. For example, if they tell you that they are looking for a job, but they don't have a resume or portfolio put together, they are NOT looking for a job... they are just telling you that to 'get you off their back', because they don't want to deal with [whatever] issues they have.
7. Seek to distance yourself from them. It may take some doing, and it may take some time, but there are some people that it is best to love from a distance.
What do YOU do when you have to deal with passive-aggresive people? Comments, please!!